Background: Organ donation and transplantation, although widely accepted as a successful medical procedure, is one of the new concepts in nursing. Organ donation does not occur as often as needed and the reasons for acceptance or refusal are not clear. To meet this demand more organs and tissues need to be recovered from potential donors. Nurses working on transplantation units are given in-service training and gain knowledge through experience. Nurses are in a position to inform, and to ask families to donate organs, and also to inform potential donors on their ward to the units.
Methods: A prospective, descriptive and semi-analytic study was designed. Data were collected using 25 structured and semi-structured questionnaires, over a week in April 2000. 3 general and 2 midwifery hospitals were visited and the purpose of the study explained. Staff were asked to participate assuring anonymity. A conference on the issue was offered on completion of the questionnaire if desired. The questionnaire came with an explanation of the purpose of the study, and thanked staff for their participation. They were given to the nurses in charge on each ward, and collected 3 days later by the researchers. The respond rate was 65.6%.
Results: Of the nurses, 87.7% had positive thoughts about the organ donation, but only 10.8% knew the donation law, 68.8% would consider donating organs of their own, 58.7% would consider signing a consent card, and only 36.7% would donate organs from their family members. Although, the majority had positive views about the issue only 34.4% showed willingness to talk to families and ask for donations, 84.0% would inform potential donors in the unit. Adequate knowledge and level of education were the factors effecting acceptance and willingness to be involved in organ harvesting efforts (p < 0.001 and p < 0.05).
Conclusions: The only significant predictors of their acceptance and willingness were education (chi2 = 6.45, p < 0.05), and to have adequate knowledge (chi2 = 21.90, p < 0.001). Nurses were found in need of education about all aspects of brain death and organ donation including how and when to approach families to inform and ask for organs, and how to support families throughout the process. A brochure should be prepared in detail to guide them on this task. More research should be done to clarify the reasons for refusal of organ donation.