First Study to Look at New Potential in Infant Organ Donation
01/28/2011

New research has resulted in the approval of Kidney Injury Molecule-1 (Kim-1) as a highly sensitive and specific marker of drug-induced kidney injury by both the FDA and EMA.

Online PR News – 28-January-2011 – – Boston, MA – There are currently more than 200,000 individuals in the US on a waiting list for an organ transplant, and nearly 100 are under one year of age. In the first study to look at the potential for organ donation from dying infants in a Newborn Intensive Care Unit setting, researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), Children’s Hospital Boston, and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center demonstrated that an estimated 8 percent of NICU mortalities would be eligible for organ donation after cardiac death.

“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,” said Richard Parad, MD, MPH, a neonatologist in the Newborn Medicine Department at BWH. Dr. Parad explains that some parents want their child to be an organ donor to help create at least one positive outcome from their tragic loss.

Currently, infants and young children in need of an organ transplant may only receive an organ from an older child, or part of an organ from an adult. In addition to the challenge of making a larger organ fit in a smaller infant body, demand is currently in excess of supply for these adult organs.

The researchers conducted a retrospective study, looking at all infant deaths at three academic medical center Newborn Intensive Care Units (NICUs) between 2005 and 2007. They determined eligible donors based criteria developed with transplantation surgeons and the New England Organ Bank. Out of 192 deaths, based on time of death after being taken off life support, they estimated that 14 livers, 18 kidneys and 10 hearts might be made available for transplantation.

“As the first study to address this sensitive subject, our 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.” said study co-author, Anne Hansen, MD, MPH, of Children’s Hospital Boston.

Study authors also include Michelle Labrecque, RN, MSN, of Children’s Hospital Boston and Munish Gupta, Md, MMSc, of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) is a 777-bed nonprofit teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School and a founding member of Partners HealthCare, an integrated health care delivery network. In July of 2008, the hospital opened the Carl J. and Ruth Shapiro Cardiovascular Center, the most advanced center of its kind. BWH is committed to excellence in patient care with expertise in virtually every specialty of medicine and surgery. The BWH medical preeminence dates back to 1832, and today that rich history in clinical care is coupled with its national leadership in quality improvement and patient safety initiatives and its dedication to educating and training the next generation of health care professionals. Through investigation and discovery conducted at its Biomedical Research Institute (BRI), BWH is an international leader in basic, clinical and translational research on human diseases, involving more than 860 physician-investigators and renowned biomedical scientists and faculty supported by more than $416 M in funding. BWH is also home to major landmark epidemiologic population studies, including the Nurses' and Physicians' Health Studies and the Women's Health Initiative. For more information about BWH, please visit http://www.brighamandwomens.org/.