Waiting for a kidney from a deceased donor: an interpretative phenomenological analysis

Psychol Health Med. 2016 Oct;21(7):836-44. doi: 10.1080/13548506.2015.1112415. Epub 2015 Nov 20.


Demand for kidneys from deceased donors far outstrips supply. Despite this, there appears to be little research that focuses solely on the experience of waiting for a kidney from a deceased donor. This study uses the qualitative methodology interpretative phenomenological analysis to explore the lives of 10 people on the transplant list, with the aims of illuminating the potential psychological challenges those on the list may face during this time, and providing information to help clinicians more fully support such people in the future. Two themes connected to the experience of waiting - adjustment to the uncertainty of waiting and thinking about receiving a kidney from a living donor - are presented here. Participants describe a sense of confusion and uncertainty around life on the list, and discuss their strategies for dealing with this. Novel complexities around the ambiguous challenge of receiving an organ from a deceased donor are revealed. It is recommended that health care teams provide a forum for this patient group to work through these feelings of confusion and ambiguity.

Keywords: Deceased renal donor recipients; ESRD; phenomenology; renal failure; waiting list.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health
  • Cadaver
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / psychology*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / surgery
  • Kidney Transplantation / psychology*
  • Living Donors
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Qualitative Research
  • Tissue Donors
  • Uncertainty
  • Waiting Lists*
  • Young Adult