Cost Evaluation of a Donation after Cardiac Death Program: How Cost per Organ Compares to Other Donor Types

Jessica Lindemann, Leigh Anne Dageforde, Neeta Vachharajani, Emily Stahlschmidt, Diane Brockmeier, Jason R. Wellen, Adeel Khan, William C. Chapman, MB Majella Doyle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Background: Donation after cardiac death (DCD) is one method of organ donation. Nationally, more than half of evaluated DCD donors do not yield transplantable organs. There is no algorithm for predicting which DCD donors will be appropriate for organ procurement. Donation after cardiac death program costs from an organ procurement organization (OPO) accounting for all evaluated donors have not been reported. Study Design: Hospital, transportation, and supply costs of potential DCD donors evaluated at a single OPO from January 2009 to June 2016 were collected. Mean costs per donor and per organ were calculated. Cost of DCD donors that did not yield a transplantable organ were included in cost analyses resulting in total cost of the DCD program. Donation after cardiac death donor costs were compared with costs of in-hospital donation after brain death (DBD) donors. Results: There were 289 organs transplanted from 264 DCD donors evaluated. Mean cost per DCD donor yielding transplantable organs was $9,306. However, 127 donors yielded no organs, at a mean cost of $8,794 per donor. The total cost of the DCD program was $32,020 per donor and $15,179 per organ. Mean cost for an in-hospital DBD donor was $33,546 and $9,478 per organ transplanted. Mean organ yield for DBD donors was 3.54 vs 2.21 for DCD donors (p < 0.0001), making the cost per DBD organ 63% of the cost of a DCD organ. Conclusions: Mean cost per DCD donor is comparable with DBD donors, however, individual cost of DCD organs increases by almost 40% when all costs of an entire DCD program are included.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)909-916
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American College of Surgeons
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2018


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