Background: Over the last decade two alternative models of donor care have emerged in the United States: the conventional model, whereby donors are managed at the hospital where brain death occurs, and the specialized donor care facility (SDCF), in which brain dead donors are transferred to a SDCF for medical optimization and organ procurement. Despite increasing use of the SDCF model, its cost-effectiveness in comparison to the conventional model remains unknown. Methods: We performed an economic evaluation of the SDCF and conventional model of donor care from the perspective of U.S. transplant centers over a 2-year study period. In this analysis, we utilized nationwide data from the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients and controlled for donor characteristics and patterns of organ sharing across the nation's organ procurement organizations (OPOs). Subgroup analysis was performed to determine the impact of the SDCF model on thoracic organ transplants. Results: A total of 38,944 organ transplants were performed in the U.S. during the study period from 13,539 donors with an observed total organ cost of $1.36 billion. If every OPO assumed the cost and effectiveness of the SDCF model, a predicted 39,155 organ transplants (+211) would have been performed with a predicted total organ cost of $1.26 billion (−$100 million). Subgroup analysis of thoracic organs revealed that the SDCF model would lead to a predicted 156 additional transplants with a cost saving of $24.6 million. Conclusions: The U.S. SDCF model may be a less costly and more effective means of multi-organ donor management, particularly for thoracic organ donors, compared to the conventional hospital-based model.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5709-5717
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Thoracic Disease
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2020


  • Heart
  • Lung
  • Organ donor management
  • Transplantation
  • Transplantation


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