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Neonatal Organ and Tissue Donation for Research: Options Following Death by Natural Causes

Journal title
Cell and tissue banking
Publication year
Anderson, M.; Youngner, S.; Smith, R. D.; Nandyal, R. R.; Orlowski, J. P.; Jessie Hill, B.; Barsman, S. G.

The donation of organs and tissues from neonates (birth to 28�days) for transplantation has been a relatively infrequent occurrence. Less common has been the use of neonatal organs and tissues for research. Specific ethical and legal questions beg for rational and transparent guidelines with which to evaluate referrals of potential donors. Donation of organs and tissues from a neonate can play a key role in the care and support provided to families by health care professionals around the time of a neonate's death. We report on the recovery of neonatal organs and tissues for research. A working group made up of bioethicists, neonatologists, lawyers, obstetric practioners as well as organ procurement and tissue banking professionals evaluated legal, ethical and medical issues. Neonatal donor family members were also consulted. Our primary goals were (a) to ensure that referrals were made in compliance with all applicable federal and state laws, regulations and institutional protocols, and (b) to follow acceptable ethical standards. Algorithms and policies designed to assist in the evaluation of potential neonatal donors were developed. Neonatal donation is proving increasingly valuable for research into areas including diabetes, pulmonary, gastrointestinal, genitourinary and neurological development, rheumatoid arthritis, autism, childhood psychiatric and neurologic disorders, treatment of MRSA infection and pediatric emergency resuscitation. The development of policies and procedures will assist medical professionals who wish to offer the option of donation to family members anticipating the death of a neonate.

Research abstracts