THURSDAY, Jan. 6 (HealthDay News) -- The organs of about 8
percent of infants who suffer cardiac death in newborn intensive
care units (NICUs) would be eligible for donation and could help
save the lives of other infants and young children, according to a
Children younger than 1 year old account for about 100 of the
more than 200,000 people in the United States on an organ
transplant waiting list. But currently, infants and young children
who need an organ transplant can only receive an organ from an
older child or part of an adult organ.
In addition to the challenge of fitting a larger organ into an
infant's body, demand for adult organs exceeds supply, noted Dr.
Richard Parad, a neonatologist in the newborn medicine department
at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH), and his colleagues at
Children's Hospital Boston and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical
"A key motivation behind this study was our inability to act, under current guidelines, on the direct requests from parents faced with the loss of their newborn who turned to us wanting their child to be an organ donor," Parad said in a BWH news release.
These parents want some good to come from their tragic loss, he
In this study, the researchers analyzed 192 deaths that occurred
in the NICUs of three academic medical centers between 2005 and
2007. Eligibility for organ donation was based on criteria
developed with transplantation surgeons and the New England Organ
Of the 192 infants who died, 14 livers, 18 kidneys and 10 hearts
may have been eligible for donation, the researchers concluded.
The researchers said their main objective was to provide data
regarding the availability of infant donors. "Further investigation
into this potential falls to those in the fields of transplant
medicine and ethics. We feel we owe it to the families who request
organ donation to be part of the conversation by investigating the
size of the potential donor population," study co-author Dr. Anne
Hansen, of Children's Hospital Boston, said in the news
The United Network for Organ Sharing has more about
children and transplants.