Exploring families' experiences of an organ donation request after brain death

Nurs Ethics. 2012 Sep;19(5):654-65. doi: 10.1177/0969733011423410.


This qualitative research study with a content analysis approach aimed to explore families' experiences of an organ donation request after brain death. Data were collected through 38 unstructured and in-depth interviews with 14 consenting families and 12 who declined to donate organs. A purposeful sampling process began in October 2009 and ended in October 2010. Data analysis reached 10 categories and two major themes were listed as: (1) serenity in eternal freedom; and (2) resentful grief. The central themes were peace and honor versus doubt and regret. The findings indicated that the families faced with an organ donation request of a brain-dead loved one experienced a lasting effect long after the patient's demise regardless of their decision to donate or refusal to donate. In conclusion, this study highlights the importance of family support and follow-up in an efficient healthcare system aimed at developing trust with the families and providing comfort during and after the final decision.

MeSH terms

  • Brain Death*
  • Family / psychology*
  • Grief
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Iran
  • Terminal Care / psychology
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement / ethics*
  • Trust