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Progress in Transplantation






Context-Individuals needing lifesaving (heart valves, skin grafts for repair of critical burn injuries) and life-enhancing (corneas, bone and tendon grafts, skin, and veins) tissue donations outnumber the tissues available for transplant. Objective-To describe the grief family members experienced 6 months after donation and to learn how family decision makers gained meaning from the decision to donate a loved one's tissues. This is phase 1 of a longitudinal study in which family decision makers will be surveyed again at 13 and 25 months after donation. Design-Qualitative descriptive. Participants-One hundred seven family decision makers whose family member died a traumatic sudden death and who authorized donating tissues for transplant. Data Collection and Analysis-Data were written responses to the questions, "If you could ask or tell your dead family member something, what would it be?" and "What meaning does donating tissue to others have for you?" Data were analyzed by using content analysis procedures. Results-Concepts derived from the first question represent the context of family members grieving the sudden death of a loved one. Concepts were (1) feeling empty, (2) missing and loving, (3) being grateful, and (4) having regrets. The concepts derived from the second question were (1) fulfilling their family member's wish, (2) doing the right thing, (3) believing something good came from the death, (4) helping others, and (5) living on. Reasons for donating were based, in part, on honoring the legacy of their loved ones who had given of themselves to others in life and now continued to give to others after death. Conclusion-The results of this study provide a basis for health professionals and donation staffs to better understand the context within which families grieve and give meaning to tissue donation. (Progress in Transplantation. 2013;23:180-187)


Author Posting. ©2013 NATCO, The Organization for Transplant Professionals. This article is posted here by permission of NATCO for personal use, not for redistribution. The article was published in Progress in Transplantation, Volume 23, June 2013,

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.