Family bereavement: A case study of controlled organ donation after circulatory death
AbstractDeceased organ donation represents a major source of organs for human transplantation practice. In the United Kingdom as well as other parts of the world, donation after circulatory death accounts for a proportion of all deceased organ donors. Organ and tissue donation emotively takes place in the context of dying, death and bereavement, yet little is known about the family experience of donation after circulatory death. This paper presents a case study of the phenomenon of controlled donation after circulatory death in intensive care. We present a critical analysis of care processes through the lens of a British donor family who participated in a national study of organ and tissue donation. Anonymised family quotes are applied to illustrate specific case issues, and with reference to relevant national guidance and international research. The case portrayed intimate detail of the moment in time when the family experienced the potential for controlled donation after circulatory death, factors that appeared to influence family consent, and the perceived expectations and outcomes arising from the donation decision. Case analysis revealed local compliance with best practice guidance and compassionate end-of-life care whilst supporting organ retrieval. Caring for the grieving family of potential organ donors requires sensitivity and skill. Of importance is a sound professional knowledge and understanding of the clinical care pathway, together with effective teamwork, optimal communication, family and staff support. Further research is required to determine the impact of controlled donation after circulatory death on family grief and bereavement.
JournalNursing in Critical Care
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