Background: The Netherlands was one of the first countries in Europe to stimulate controlled donation after circulatory death (cDCD) at a national level in addition to donation after brain death (DBD). With this program the number of organ transplants increased, but it also proved to have challenges as will be shown in this 15-year review.
Methods: Data about deceased organ donation in the Netherlands, from 2000 until 2014, were analysed taking into account the whole donation process from donor referral to the number of organs transplanted.
Results: Donor referral increased by 58%, from 213 to 336 donors per year, and the number of organs transplanted rose by 42%. Meanwhile the contribution of cDCD donors increased from 14% in 2000 to 54% in 2014 among all referrals. The organs were transplanted from 92-99% of referred DBD donors, but this percentage was significantly lower for cDCD donors and also decreased from 86% in 2000-2002 to 67% in 2012-2014. In 16% of all referred cDCD donors, organs were not recovered because donors did not die within the expected two-hour time limit after withdrawal of life- upporting treatment. Furthermore, cDCD is more often performed at a higher donor age, which is associated with a lower percentage of transplanted organs.
Conclusion: Although cDCD resulted in more transplants, the effort in donor recruitment is considerably higher. Important challenges in cDCD that need further attention are the time limit after withdrawal of life-supporting treatment and donor age, as well as the possibilities to stimulate non-renal transplants including the heart by machine preservation.