Vascularized composite allograft (VCA) transplantation of the face, extremities, and genitourinary organs (e.g., uterus, penis) returns identity and function to individuals affected by traumatic injury, congenital deformity, or disfigurement. In the United States, there currently are 61 VCA transplant programs and 12 patients on the VCA transplant waiting list. VCA transplantation is made possible by the donation of specified body parts after death. However, VCA body parts are not part of the standard organ and tissue donation process.
Many of the patients who have benefited from and currently are in need of VCA transplantation are military veterans who sustained severe combat injuries, particularly ones to the face and extremities, during Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. Yet despite the particularly important clinical benefit of VCA donation and transplantation for combat veterans, there are no published studies that have examined their organ donation attitudes.
The objective of this study is to use a mixed-methods approach to develop and evaluate targeted video interventions designed to increase VCA donation knowledge, attitudes, intentions, and designations in a diverse veteran population, as well as enhance their commitment to authorize VCA donation for a deceased relative or significant other. This research is innovative in that it will be the first VCA donation educational intervention in a veterans population, which is the population likely to benefit the most from VCA transplantation. If successful, our VCA donation messaging can be disseminated to the VA’s 1,221 outpatient sites, 144 hospitals, and 300 Vet Centers, which service over 6 million veterans annually.
The specific aims to be examined in this study include:
Aim 1: Determine the VCA donation and transplantation knowledge, attitudes, and willingness of adult veterans.
Aim 2: Conduct formative research to probe VCA donation barriers and appropriate targets for video-based educational interventions.
Aim 3: Determine the relative effectiveness of three different VCA donation video interventions on veterans’ VCA donation knowledge, attitudes, intentions, and designations.
Aim 4: Determine the sociodemographic and donation-specific variables that are most strongly associated with VCA designation.