Recognising the gift of organ and tissue donation: an evidence-based approach

Walker, W., Sque, M., Carpenter, B. ORCID: 0000-0001-5014-1328 and Roberts, S., 2017. Recognising the gift of organ and tissue donation: an evidence-based approach. In: 14th Congress of the International Society for Organ Donation and Procurement - ISODP 2017, Geneva, Switzerland, 6-9 September 2017.

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Transplantation would not be possible without public commitment and support. In 2008, the UK Organ Donation Taskforce1 advocated formal means of honouring the gift of donation. A key recommendation was the need for research to establish the means of recognition that most donor families would appreciate.1 This paper presents the findings of a qualitative study designed 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 was one of the first studies to examine this important issue in detail.


We carried out an exploratory study over 12 months. Our study sample comprised bereaved adult family members who gave consent to organ and/or tissue donation from a deceased relative at an Acute National Health Service Trust in the Midlands, UK. Three participants from two donor families participated in a face-to-face interview. Two donor families provided a written response to pre-determined interview questions. Data were subjected to conventional content analysis2 to form categories and themes. The study received ethical approval.


Our investigation established the meaning of recognition and identified ways in which recognition may be realised. Donor families indicated unanimous support for organ and tissue donation to be formally recognised by the hospital where their relative died. Although there was no real consensus of opinion or superior choice about the exact item of recognition, participants shared an inclination for convention, and their ideas helped to establish communal preferences regarding the nature, design and location of the object. An interesting observation was the extent to which participants symbolised their experience of donation when deciding on the physical, emotional and relational qualities of the artwork. Participants identified three functions of a public memorial; recognition, remembrance and raising public awareness about organ and tissue donation. Facilitators of the donation process were identified as also worthy of recognition.


The concept of recognition has an important functional meaning in the context of deceased donation. Involving donor families in the design of a public memorial provides a means of expressing recognition and ensures a fitting tribute. Further research is recommended to test the efficacy of the different forms of recognition in the public domain.

Item Type: Conference contribution
Description: Conference abstract no. 240.11 published in: Transplantation, 101 (Supplement 8S-2), S30 (August 2017).
Creators: Walker, W., Sque, M., Carpenter, B. and Roberts, S.
Date: August 2017
ISSN: 0041-1337
Divisions: Schools > School of Art and Design
Record created by: Jill Tomkinson
Date Added: 14 Mar 2019 12:45
Last Modified: 14 Mar 2019 12:45

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