Recognising the gift of organ and tissue donation: The views and preferences of donor families
Each year, thousands of lives are transformed in the UK due to the contribution of organ and tissue donors and their families (DH 2008). Honouring the gift of donation was endorsed by the Organ Donation Taskforce (Department of Health 2008). A key recommendation was the need for research to establish the means of recognition that most donor families would appreciate. Locally, the Organ Donation Committee at Royal Wolverhampton Trust (RWT) identified funding for a public memorial that would serve as recognition of donors’ and families’ contribution to saving or improving the lives of others. We therefore proposed an exploratory study to elicit donor families’ views and preferences on appropriate ways of personally and publicly recognising the gift of organ and tissue donation. To our knowledge, this study was one of the first to examine this important issue in detail. Three main themes were identified: (1) Recognising the gift; (2) The meaning of recognition and (3) Realising recognition. Together they represent the views and opinions of donor families. The research team have confidence in the study findings to recommend a public memorial at RWT to honour the gift of donation, as desired by donor families. The artwork should use conventional forms to convey meaning without being formal or formulaic. The overall mood of the object should be celebratory, transmitting a sense of joy and pride. The study participants favoured permanence and the use of natural materials without applied colour. The location should be somewhere that offers the space to engage with the artwork in a contemplative manner. We suggest that the best way of realising the work is to specify a very tight brief that responds to the properties identified above, and then advertise for craftspeople and artists to realise the work within a budget. Conclusion This study provided valuable insight into donor families views and preferences on appropriate ways of personally and publicly recognising the gift of organ and tissue donation. The results of our investigation associated the act of organ and tissue donation with gift-giving, established the meaning of recognition for donor families and identified ways in which recognition of the gift may be realised. Several contributors to the donation process were identified as worthy of recognition. The perceived utility of recognition in the context of deceased donation draws attention to the importance of further research to test the efficacy of the different forms of recognition in the public domain.
Citation : Walker, W., Sque, M., Carpenter, B. and Roberts, S. (2014) Recognising the gift of organ and tissue donation: The views and preferences of donor families. Final report submitted to The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust Organ Donation Committee, February.
Peer Reviewed : No
- School of Arts