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Referral & Donation Process

As a healthcare professional you have the unique opportunity to help Gift of Life Donor Program heal and save lives through organ and tissue donation. Together, we can make a difference by providing compassionate care to donor patients, donor families, individuals waiting on the transplant list, and recipients.

A man stand over a desk as a woman works on the computer.
Gift of Life Donor Program’s state-of-the-art Transplant Information Center receives tens of thousands of calls every year.

The organ donation referral is the first step to the donation process. Healthcare professionals are vital to Gift of Life’s mission to save and heal more lives. Learn more about how the process works below.

1-800-KIDNEY-1 (1-800-543-6391)
How to refer a patient to Gift of Life Donor Program

When a potential organ donor is identified, a referral is made by a member of the healthcare team calling 1-800-KIDNEY-1 (1-800-543-6391).  Typically, nurses make the referral; however, any member of the healthcare team may do so.

Notifying Gift of Life Donor Program in a timely manner is consistent with state and federal laws and other regulatory requirements. It also allows a Gift of Life Transplant Coordinator time to travel to your hospital and work with the team to determine medical suitability. Your timely referral also allows Gift of Life to prepare the healthcare team for their role in the process.

Pathways for organ donation
Organ donation following declaration of death by neurologic criteria

Organ recovery following the declaration of death based on neurologic criteria is the most common method of organ donation; occurring approximately 80% of the time. Typically the donation includes both thoracic and abdominal organs.

Learn more about brain death through a digital toolkit.

Organ donation following declaration of death by cardio-pulmonary criteria

Organ recovery following the declaration of death based on cardio-pulmonary criteria known as donation after circulatory death (DCD), is the foundation of modern clinical transplant. This type of organ donation occurs when a patient has suffered a devastating neurologic injury or illness but does not meet strict brain death criteria. Organ recovery is made after the family decides to stop all life-sustaining treatment, and the patient is declared dead based on cardio-pulmonary criteria versus neurologic criteria.

Authorization for donation

Gift of Life Donor Program coordinates the donation discussion and obtains authorization from the next of kin. Gift of Life relies  on our healthcare team partners to help provide compassionate end of life care and support for the family, and to join us in family conversations about donation.

The Gift of Life Transplant Coordinator works closely with our healthcare team partners to make sure that there is a collaborative and planned approach for discussing donation with families.   Healthcare team members should not bring up this topic independent of Gift of Life’s participation.  Below are examples of scenarios that would trigger a family conversation about donation.

Organ allocation and transplant

Gift of Life Donor Program allocates organs for intended transplant candidates according to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS).

Once suitable transplant patients are identified, Gift of Life Donor Program coordinates the operating phase of the process, which includes coordinating transportation for the transplant surgical recovery teams. Transplant surgeons and their teams travel to the donor’s hospital where organs are recovered. The transplant surgery occurs at the hospital where the waiting recipient is located.

Organ donation case follow up

After the completion of an organ donor case, Gift of Life Donor Program provides comprehensive follow up and debriefs our healthcare team partners. Debriefings are excellent opportunities to acknowledge teamwork, highlight successes, and discuss lessons learned as well as opportunities for how we can improve the process.

Comprehensive after-care for donor families

Gift of Life Donor Program’s Family Support Services department is comprised of professional social workers and counselors and offers a variety of grief and bereavement programs to meet the needs of all who are touched by the sudden death of a loved one.  Families of donors may choose to:

  • Speak to one of our Family Support Counselors over the phone (1-800-DONORS-1)
  • Attend a one-on-one session with a Family Support Counselor at our Philadelphia office
  • Find referrals for local support groups and counselors

Learn more here

To contact Gift of Life Donor Program, call 1-800-KIDNEY-1 (1-800-543-6391) or fill our the contact form below. Please do not use the form below for potential donor referrals.

Healthcare Contact Form

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