Introduction: Temporal bone dissection is essential training for otological surgery. Organ retention scandals have made it difficult to obtain consent for cadaveric temporal bone removal. The current literature does not address the means of acquiring a steady supply of cadaveric temporal bones for medical education and training. The US national temporal bone registry has established a temporal bone donor bank for medical education and research. Could a similar programme in the UK be an answer to the paucity of temporal bones?
Objectives: (1) To ascertain the degree of interest amongst our regional patient population in a ‘living will’ pledge for temporal bone donation for medical education and research. (2) To delineate a demographic profile of potential temporal bone donors.
Design, setting and participants: One thousand questionnaires were distributed to patients and relatives attending out-patient clinics; 920 people responded.
Results: Seventy per cent of respondents supported temporal bone donation for medical education and research. Potential temporal bone donors tended to be ENT clinic attenders, to suffer from hearing difficulties or to have had previous ear surgery (p<0.001). Strong support also came from non-ENT clinic attenders.
Conclusions: There was strong support amongst our regional patient population for a ‘living will’ pledge for temporal bone donation for medical education and research. Based on our donor profile, we propose a temporal bone donor programme, starting on a regional basis with possible expansion nationwide. This programme would recruit donors from amongst patients attending ENT out-patient clinics, as a long term solution to improve the supply of temporal bones.