Because the death of a child can be sudden or unexpected, many families are not aware of organ donation and the significant life-extending benefit it can bring to a young recipient and their family. According to a new policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), “Pediatric Organ Donation and Transplantation,” appearing in the April issue of Pediatrics(published online March 29), organ donation or transplantation should be an option for any family who may have to endure the tragedy of losing a child or having a child that may be a potential transplant recipient.
The number of children on the national transplant waiting list far exceeds the number of organs recovered and transplanted. Pediatricians, children’s advocacy groups, and institutions that care for children need to promote awareness for increased organ donation and organ transplantation. In addition, pediatric medical specialists and transplant surgeons should discuss the benefits and risks of organ donation and transplantation with family members, and provide continued support during the donation process and in long-term follow-up with the donor family.