Organ donation after circulatory death (DCD) e-learning module now available

Tuesday, July 21, 2020 Jenny Ryan

Third module of Canadian Clinical Guide to Organ Donation just launched

The Canadian Clinical Guide to Organ Donation is an essential curriculum for health professionals that enhances competencies in the identification and care of potential deceased donors and their families. It is a free self-directed, interactive, online e-learning course.

Developed by Canadian Blood Services in collaboration with the organ donation organizations in Canada and many generous volunteers from the Canadian Critical Care community, this curriculum is accredited Royal College of Physicians & Surgeons of Canada and is approved by Dalhousie University. 

Since first launched in late 2018, hundreds of professionals have gained valuable knowledge through learning modules on neurological determination of death (NDD) and identification and referral (ID&R) of potential organ donors.

 “Never assume a patient is not a potential organ donor prior to contacting an ODO (organ donation organization). Don't assume family are not interested in organ donation. Contact the ODO prior to having a WLST (withdrawal of life sustaining measures) conversation.” 

(Key takeaways from the curriculum as described by a student.)

The newest module to become available as part of the Canadian Clinical Guide to Organ Donation is the donation after circulatory death (DCD) module. DCD is an option for organ donation for patients with severe brain injuries once a decision has been made to remove all life-sustaining treatments. When a person's heart permanently stops beating, they have experienced “circulatory death”. 

Learning objectives for the newly added DCD module include:

  • Understanding the important role donation after circulatory death plays in the deceased donation pathway
  • Knowing how to identify, and refer a potential DCD donor
  • Knowledge of key issues when approaching family members about DCD
  • Knowledge of the logistics of donor evaluation
  • Understanding of the DCD pathway

Expert contributors to the DCD module include: Drs. Matthew Weiss, Sonny Dhanani, Andreas Kramer, Kim Savory, Matt Hannouche, Jennifer Hancock, and Pierre Cardinal.

Why is this important?

DCD accounts for the largest increase in deceased donation over time and, next to ensuring consistent donor identification and referral, constitutes the greatest opportunity to continue to increase donation potential. As of 2018, nine provincial organ donation organizations have implemented DCD within their jurisdiction, in addition to their neurological determination of death (NDD) programs. Improving Canada’s deceased donation rate requires a continued focus on implementation and evaluation of donation after circulatory death (DCD) programs.

Donation after circulatory death is responsible for the largest quantitative increase in deceased donation and transplantation in Canada. In 2018, 30% of all deceased donors were realized through DCD.

Learn more about the Canadian Clinical Guide to Organ Donation here.

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Through discovery, development and applied research, Canadian Blood Services drives world-class innovation in blood transfusion, cellular therapy and transplantation—bringing clarity and insight to an increasingly complex healthcare future. Our dedicated research team and extended network of partners engage in exploratory and applied research to create new knowledge, inform and enhance best practices, contribute to the development of new services and technologies, and build capacity through training and collaboration. Find out more about our research impact

The opinions reflected in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Canadian Blood Services nor do they reflect the views of Health Canada or any other funding agency.


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