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Authors Taylor LJ, Buffington A, Scalea JR, Fost N, Croes KD, Mezrich JD, Schwarze ML
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Journal Am. J. Transplant.
Publish Date 2017 Aug 14
PubMed ID 28805291

While donation after circulatory death (DCD) has expanded options for organ donation, many who wish to donate are still unable to do so. We conducted face-to-face interviews with family members (N = 15) who had direct experience with unsuccessful DCD and 5 focus groups with professionals involved in the donation process. We used qualitative content analysis to characterize the harms of nondonation as perceived by participants. Participants reported a broad spectrum of harms affecting organ recipients, donors, and donor families. Harms included waste of precious life-giving organs and hospital resources, inability to honor the donor’s memory and character, and impaired ability for families to make sense of tragedy and cope with loss. Donor families empathized with the initial hope and ultimate despair of potential recipients who must continue their wait on the transplant list. Focus group members reinforced these findings and highlighted the struggle of families to navigate the uncertainty regarding the timing of death during the donation process. While families reported significant harm, many appreciated the donation attempt. These findings highlight the importance of organ donation to donor families and the difficult experiences associated with current processes that could inform development of alternative donation strategies. Copyright © 2017 The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System