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Relatives change minds over organ donations

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Nearly half of relatives who refused permission for their loved ones' organs to be donated initially supported the practice, a study has shown.

The study was based on interviews with 26 people who refused to let their relatives’ organs be donated. It found 12 subjects held initially positive views about organ donation.

The UK research identified six main reasons why relatives refuse permission for their loved ones’ organs to be donated.

Most commonly, in 15 cases, relatives wished to protect the dead body. Sudden deaths, a lack of knowledge about the organ donation process, timeliness and sensitivity of the organ donation discussion, wishes to witness the observable ending of life and individual views about organ donation were also causes of refusal.

Authors said: ‘Understanding what influenced participants to decline donation despite having positive views may help to understand why populations that generally support organ donation and transplantation have high refusal rates.’

Relatives of dead patients are always consulted before donations occur, even if the deceased give permission for their organs to be donated.

Journal of Advanced Nursing (2008) 61: 134-144
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