Innogen  ·  Publications  ·  Journal articles
Donor and non-donor families’ accounts of communication and relations with healthcare professionals

Haddow, G

Progress in Transplantation   14 (1) 41-48

March 2004

The UK cadaveric organ procurement scheme is based on a voluntary, opt-in system. However, regardless of whether and how an individual makes their wishes known about organ donation before death, health professionals are required to seek the families' "lack of objection" before organ removal. Family and health professional relationships were previously identified by researchers as important during patient maintenance on a ventilator, familial understanding of brain stem death, organ donation requests and post follow-up care [1-3]. The present qualitative study was conducted over a two-year period in Scotland. Semi-structured interviews with donor (n=19) and non-donor families (n=4) explored their accounts of communication and interaction with health professionals. The data suggest strategies that can support relatives, including early direct/tacit communication regarding recovery prospects, provision of clear and timely information about brain stem death, assurances regarding respectful treatment of the decedent's body, wearing non-surgical attire and post follow-up care if needed.