Organ transplantation: approaching the donor's family

BMJ 1995; 310 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.310.6988.1149 (Published 06 May 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;310:1149
  1. Alan Stein,
  2. Tony Hope,
  3. J D Baum
  1. Leopold Muller professor of child and family mental health Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine and the Tavistock Clinic, London NW3 5BA
  2. Leader Oxford Practice Skills Project, University of Oxford Medical School, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford OX3 9DU
  3. Professor of child health Institute of Child Health, Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Bristol BS2 8BJ

    Train doctors to approach families sensitively

    In 1993, 2970 patients in need of organs were added to the list of those awaiting transplantation.1 These included 1819 patients awaiting kidneys. While these waiting lists lengthen, however, the availability of donors continues to fall. There is therefore an urgent need to increase the number of donors for organ transplantation.2 3 4

    To achieve this end a variety of different strategies has been suggested. For example, some European countries, such as Austria, have legislation that permits doctors to remove the organs of potential cadaveric donors unless they have previously registered their wish to the contrary.5 The introduction of such legislation in the United Kingdom is advocated by the British Kidney Patients' Association. In certain states in the United States doctors are required to approach relatives of potential donors who are brainstem dead. In the United Kingdom the government has recently set up a transplant register and invited members of the public to register their willingness to become organ donors.

    Several studies have pursued the reasons for the lack …

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