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Critical Care Medicine

Organ and tissue donation

Introduction  |  Who we are  |  What we do  |  Online Resources


The organ and tissue donation (OTD) program became a central focus to the mission of the Critical Care Unity under the leadership of Dr. Sam Shemie and Lisa McCarthy approximately 20 years ago. Our goal has always been to lead the way and champion OTD through the development of novel initiatives such as donation after cardiac death (DCD), a collaborative neonatal donation program and strong affiliations with the Trillium Gift of Life Network (TGLN).

In 2008, the concept of donation after cardiac death (DCD) was introduced as a SickKids hospital policy. This, an extremely careful process, was modeled on the national guidelines of the Canadian Council for Organ Donation and Transplantation, and is the first such policy in any paediatric hospital in the country. Although successful from a “numbers” point of view, this is most successful if there are broader options available to families who wish to consider organ and tissue donation. 

The central firm belief of the OTD program is that a consistent approach to provide options around organ and tissue donation is an important constituent of comprehensive end of life care. Our entire interprofessional team is dedicated to supporting this mission.



Donation Coordinator:  Diana Lee, RN, BScN, CNCC(C)

OTD Medical Director:  Dr. Briseida Mema, MD, FRCPC, Hospital Donation Physician Lead, Co-Chair OTD Committee

Executive Director of Critical Care Services:  Karen Kinnear, RN, MBA, Co-Chair OTD Committee


The Organ and Tissue Donation Committee:

    • sets the strategic direction for SickKids to fulfill our provincial obligation in meeting the expected outcomes of organ and tissue donation legislation.
    • provides leadership and direction to the SickKids Organ and Tissue Donation Program including involvement and consultation during tri-annual accreditation processes.
    • annually reviews the policies, procedures and legislative changes related to organ and tissue donation to ensure that we are in compliance with current practice.
    • continually reviews performance measures to ensure quality clinical practice, education and research goals are achieved.
    • champions organ and tissue donation awareness at SickKids and in the community.

Through our role in the Critical Care Unit, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and wider hospital we provide consistent standards and expectations of data reporting by collecting information regarding deaths in the institution and utilization of appropriate referral processes. Continual review of this information allows us to provide feedback at Morbidity and Mortality reviews, Hospital Quality Committees and at the Provincial level through TGLN and the Provincial Paediatric Critical Care Network to ensure continual process improvement and realization of our mission and vision.

We also provide education to medical and interprofessional trainees from all disciplines. Topics presented range from up to date donor medical management, legal precedents that enabled donation to ethics surrounding current issues in organ donation.



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