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Information for Donor Families

No one that has no been through the loss of a loved one can know how difficult that time can be. The loss of a family member can devastate a family. It is then that the next-of-kin must make many decisions regarding the departed, such as choice of a funeral home, clothing a deceased person should wear, picking out a casket and other related decisions. It is at that time that the organ and tissue requestor must approach the next-of-kin with the decision to donate.

This decision whether to donate organs and tissue impacts other lives. In the case of organs, it may be a matter of life or death. With other tissue, it may be a matter of enhancing quality of life; will the recipient be able to see thanks to a corneal transplant, will a burn victim be able to lead as normal a life as possible with donated skin, can a vascular recipient receiving heart-saving bypass surgery. Bone may be recovered for many types of orthopedic surgery thereby restoring mobility.

The requestor will try to help the family through this most difficult time. In most cases, the opportunity to donate may be made via phone but the requestor will come to speak to the donorís family if need be. They will explain who they are and who they represent and ask if the decedent ever discussed organ and tissue donation with the family. This distressful time is made easier for the family if their family member has already planned for this sad eventuality and discussed donation with the family in advance. The requestor will also answer any questions the family might have about the donation process.

If the next-of-kin consents for donation, the requestor will ask a series of medical history and lifestyle questions to evaluate the donorís transplant viability and suitability. It is at this time that complete candor is essential for the safety of the transplant recipients and for the technical personnel who with do the actual recovery. After this interview process is completed the family may go on with their other arrangements. They are not permitted to view the tissue recovery process nor be a part of the recovery team.

As a general rule, the decision to donate will have no effect on the ability to have an open casket funeral or any other final activities. It will not effect the level of medical care your loved one receives (the transplanting surgeon is barred from being a part of the care team or influencing the attending physician in any way). Subsequent to the recovery of tissue and its transplant, the eye bank will send a letter of gratitude to the donor family with information about the results of the transplant and who received the transplant (insofar as permitted by regulations and by medical confidentiality.

The eye bank is grateful for all our donors. We treat each of our donors and their families with the utmost respect and consideration. We also respect their wishes regarding donation. We know that donations can be a difficult decision to make and no pressure is brought to bear on any family to donate.

WRITING THE DONOR FAMILY