Organ donation and critical care
Network Event - October 2010
Supporting patient and relatives' wishes
This event, run by the Network, looked at ways of supporting patients and their relatives in making organ donation possible. It considered the challenges that can arise within hospitals when trying to meet such requests and the effective strategies deployed by some hospitals to reduce these obstacles.
Patients described their lives before and after receiving a transplant telling clinical staff about their new quality of life. The Donor Family Network provided insight into the experiences of the families and loved ones of organ donors. Clinical staff shared some of the problems they had experienced in facilitating donation and set out local solutions.
In agreement with patients, the meeting determined that
- Organ donation is an important part of end of life care;
- We should aim to test all potentially brain-stem dead patients regardless of the potential for organ donation;
- We should refer all brain stem-dead patients to the specialist nurses for organ donation;
- Organ donation should be discussed with the family / friends of all brain-stem dead patients, unless there is an absolute medical contraindication;
- It is acceptable to admit a potentially brain stem dead patient to the ICU in order to facilitate organ donation;
- The possibility of donation after cardiac death should be considered whenever withdrawing life-sustaining cardiovascular support.
With grateful thanks to patients, user group representatives and clinicians.
NHS Blood and Transplant are members of the Network Medical Forum and contribute to Network educational activity and events.