Saving a Life: Caring for the Potential Organ Donor

Part of AACN Critical Care Webinar Series

Presenter(s): Richard Arbour, MSN,RN,CCRN,CNRN,CCNS,CCTC,FAAN,FCCM

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Webinar Summary

With so many patients waiting for transplant, the option to save a life by donating organs may help families come to some resolution of grief over the death of a loved one. In this webinar we will discuss the sequence of physiologic events that occurs following neurological injury that leads to a terminal outcome. The speaker will identify the optimal timing for medical intervention to make sure any patient who experiences a non-cardiac death may still be a viable organ donor, should the family choose to consent to organ donation. Early intervention to maintain organ function provides time for evaluation by the Organ Procurement Organization (OPO) and discussion with the family about potential organ donation.


  • Recognize the sequence of evolving neurological injury and terminal events to allow for early intervention and organ preservation.
  • Describe interventions to preserve cardiovascular, pulmonary, and endocrine stability in the potential organ donor.
  • Explain the organ procurement organization (OPO) referral process and timeline.




Richard Arbour is a critical care and neuroscience clinical nurse specialist at Lancaster General Hospital/Penn Medicine in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He has a broad base of 33 years of clinical experience in the care of critically ill patients with a focus on neurologic critical care, identification and management of the potential organ donor and family care at end-of-life. His publications addressing brain death and organ transplantation are widely cited and used nationally, internationally and by organ procurement organizations as teaching tools for clinical management of the brain-dead organ donor.

Continuing Education Disclosure Statement

Successful Completion

Learners must attend/view/read the entire activity, read Implicit Bias impacts patient outcomes, and complete the associated evaluation to be awarded the contact hours or CERP. No partial credit will be awarded.


The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses is accredited as a provider of nursing continuing professional development by the American Nurses Credentialing Center's Commission on Accreditation.

Provider approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing, Provider number CEP 1036, for 0.00 contact hours.

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