Discussing organ donation

Discussing organ donation

Discussions about organ donation should take place in a setting suitable for private discussion and at a suitable time for you. The patient's healthcare team should explain to you that considering organ donation is a usual part of end-of-life care. They should reassure you that the focus will be on the care and dignity of the patient, and that the standard of care will be the same regardless of whether or not you give consent for organ donation. You should be given enough time to consider any information you are given.

The healthcare team should be aware of whether you and your family need any support (for example, a trained interpreter, a faith representative, family liaison officer or bereavement service), or if there are any cultural or religious issues that may have an impact on consent.

In some cases organ donation may not take place, even if consent is given. If this happens, your healthcare team should explain the reasons why.

Questions you might like to ask about consent

  • When do I need to decide whether or not to give consent?

  • What will happen if I refuse to give consent?

  • What will happen if I want to change my mind?

  • Can I give consent for some organs and not others?

  • How old do you have to be before you can give consent for organ donation?

What information can I expect if the patient is a potential donor?

All patients

You should be given information about:

  • why life-sustaining treatment will not be given or will be stopped

  • what happens during organ donation, including where and when the organs will be removed, and what happens afterwards

  • what procedures may have to be carried out after consent has been given

  • what current legislation means for the patient if, for example, they are a registered donor or if they have made a living will

  • whether anything is needed in terms of referral to the coroner

  • what documents you will need to read and sign to give consent.

Brainstem death

The patient's healthcare team should explain how death will be diagnosed and confirmed and what happens next.

Circulatory death

The patient's healthcare team should explain:

  • what end-of-life care involved and where it will take place

  • how death will be confirmed and what happens next

  • what happens if death doesn't occur with a given time period.

Other questions you might like to ask

  • Will the doctor tell me how the donation operation went?

  • Will I be able to see the body after the donation has taken place?

  • Information Standard