Dr Cameron McLaren
Department of General Medicine, MonashHealth, Victoria


Title: Opportunities For Improving Eye And Tissue Donation Rates In General Medicine Inpatients In Australia

Authors: McLaren CJ1, Bryen E2, Whittle SC3, Godfrey A3, Campbell D1


1 Department of General Medicine, MonashHealth, Victoria, Australia
2 DonateLife, MonashHealth, Victoria, Australia
3 School of Medicine, Monash University, Victoria, Australia

Abstract Text: 
There have been significant improvements in organ donation rates in critical care departments (ED and ICU) in Australia in recent years. Despite this, the rate of eye and tissue donation remains low. In the authors’ experience, the prospect of eye and tissue donation is rarely raised in terminally-ill inpatients in General Medical units.

We conducted a retrospective audit of patients who passed away in non-critical care areas while admitted under the General Medical unit at a Victorian teaching hospital during a 19-month period from 1st January 2014 to 31st July 2015. We analysed the cases as to their potential eligibility for eye and tissue donation, and then assessed whether eye and tissue donation had been raised with the patient or their family. We also crosschecked the potentially-eligible cases with the Australian Organ Donor Register (AODR) to identify whether there had been eligible patients who had expressed wishes to have a conversation regarding organ and tissue donation included as part of their end-of-life care. 

Of the 225 deaths that occurred during this period, 87 (38.67%) were potentially eligible for eye and tissue donation. Of these, discussion with the patient or family about eye and tissue donation occurred once (1.27%). When cross-checked with the AODR, we identified 2 cases (2.30%) where patients had previously expressed their preference to be considered for organ and/or tissue donation. The results of this study highlight the need to raise our awareness of the potential for eye and tissue donation within inpatient General Medical units in Australia.