Denver Hospitals To Revise Organ Procurement Policies
Several Denver-area hospitals have adopted or plan to adopt a new policy that allows doctors to procure organs from cardiac-death patients before they become "brain dead," the Denver Post reports. St. Anthony Central Hospital adopted the policy last year, and five other Denver-area hospitals plan to "follow suit," a trend that "reflects in part new studies that show organs from people whose hearts have stopped are still sound." Under the new policy, a patient's heart must stop within an hour of removal from a ventilator, and recovery teams must wait five minutes before they procure donor organs "in case the person's heart begins pumping again on its own," according to Susan Dunn, vice president of Donor Alliance, which coordinates organ transplants in Colorado and Wyoming. However, under the policy, a patient who dies in surgery or in the emergency room cannot qualify as an organ donor "because doctors want to be in a calm environment when they decide a person can't live without a ventilator," the Post reports. University of Colorado Hospital officials said that they plan to screen for organ donors within the next two months and "plan to get as many donors as possible." The hospital has begun to train staff to "recognize potential donors" before death. Dr. Mark Geraci, assistant chief of medicine at the hospital, said, "The way we care for a patient won't change, but the staff will have to be aware that there are widened options for (organ) donation." Only one cardiac-death patient at St. Anthony's has become an organ donor, the Post reports (Sherry, Denver Post, 8/15).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.