Kudos to AACN for supporting organ donation and UNOS (United Network for Organ Sharing). This letter is in response to Franki Chabalewski's article in the May 1998 issue of AACN News.
I am a critical care nurse who now works for an organ procurement organization (OPO) in Indiana. Thank you for recognizing the need for a partnership between critical care nurses and their local OPOs, and thank you for dedicating your April 1999 issue of Critical Care Nurse� to donation.
Since I started this job over a year ago, I have realized that many people benefit from donation. It is common to think of the recipients who will receive a life-saving gift. However, the individuals who receive the most benefit from donation are the members of the donor family.
Donor families consistently tell me, “The only thing that has gotten us through this is knowing that something good has come out of someone’s death.” Choosing to donate brings tremendous peace and comfort to a grieving family.
The most precious gift that critical care nurses can give to a potential donor family is to ensure the request for organ donation is made in a manner that meets the family’s needs. It is not enough to just ask, “Do you want to donate the organs?” Donor families are grieving families and thus need to be cared for accordingly.
I urge critical care nurses to learn the signs and symptoms of brain death, and to contact their local OPO on all impending brain deaths. Early intervention will help ensure the family’s right to donate. OPOs are the experts on donation, and are available 24 hours a day to provide the information necessary to ensure a compassionate request for donation. Always contact the OPO prior to approaching a family to ensure that the patient is medically suitable.
If you would like further information on organ donation, please feel free to contact me. My mailing address is IOPO, 711 E Colfax Ave, Suite 201, South Bend, IN 46617; phone; (219) 246-9473; fax, (219) 246-9474; e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gayle Waldenmaier, RN, BS, BA, PTC
South Bend, Ind
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