WEDNESDAY, May 22 (HealthDay News) -- Over the last decade, the number of American children who die each year awaiting an organ donation dropped by more than half, new research reveals. And increasing numbers of children are receiving donor organs.
During that time, the overall pool of potential organ donors expanded to include not just patients who've experienced brain death but also those with a "circulatory determination of death."
But it's unclear how much that shift in donor criteria helps children waiting for transplants.
"There are a couple of bottom lines, the first being that there are simply not enough donor organs for people on the waiting list, whether they're children or not," said study lead author Dr. Jennifer Workman, a fellow in pediatric critical care medicine at the University of Utah School of Medicine in Salt Lake City. "So we have to do anything we can as a medical community to chip away at the stark numbers.
"And in trying to get as many organ donors as possible, we have to think of who are the possible donor candidates," Workman added. "Traditionally, it's been those who met brain death criteria. But if the family has a child or adult who has such severe injuries or is so severely ill that there is no way to make any recovery they may choose to withdraw life-support, regardless of whether or not there's brain death. And in that situation that patient can still be an organ donor, and some families may feel that participating in this process is appropriate and meaningful for them."
The study authors noted that regardless of trends, the overall picture for those currently awaiting an organ donation continues to be dire.
Currently, the waiting list for organ transplants exceeds 117,000 American adults and children. And although roughly 28,500 transplants took place in 2011, that same year 7,000 people died while waiting for an appropriate don
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