Nurse researchers from Southampton University interviewed 26 family members who declined to donate the organs of a deceased relative.
The researchers said decisions not to donate had still been taken, even though 12 family members described themselves as ‘pro-donation’ and nine said their relative had indicated they wanted to be an organ donor.
They found the main reason given for not donating was the need to ‘protect the body’. But family members also cited a lack of knowledge of what organ donation involved, problems with the timing and sensitivity of the donation discussion, and the need to come to terms with the sudden death of a relative.
Lead author Magi Sque, senior lecturer at the university’s nursing school, said: ‘Exploring and understanding their [relatives] views may help lead to better management of this delicate process and could potentially increase donation rates.’
A report from the Organ Donation Taskforce, published last month, called for mandatory training for all critical care nurses involved in the treatment of potential organ donors (NT News, 22 January, p2).
The 14 recommendations of the report, which were fully endorsed by ministers, are intended to increase donations by 50% to help reduce
the growing gap between organ supply and demand.
But Kim Hunt, donor transplant coordinator at the South Thames transplant co-ordination service, said discussions with relatives about potential organ donation should only be handled
by specially-trained transplant coordinators.
‘It can be a very difficult time for the family, especially if their relative has been declared brain-stem dead or treatment is being withdrawn – there are no outward signs of trauma but they are being told their loved one is dead,’ she said.
Journal of Advanced Nursing (2007) 61: 134–144