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Chris's Story

It is part of our role in intensive care to help facilitate organ donation. 

All potential organ donors will be on a ventilator (breathing machine) in an Intensive Care Unit. This opportunity is very rare, around one percent of all deaths happen this way. Therefore, we feel a big responsibility to get the process right when it arises.

It is important to acknowledge that opportunities for organ donation occur during an extremely traumatic time for the donor families involved. Generally, a sudden devastating brain injury has occurred and families are under immense stress. Our role is to guide them through this period, care for their loved one to provide a dignified death, and explore whether organ donation is to be part of that care.

The decision to donate is challenging because of this context and requires discussion between the family and our trained staff. Families who have had a conversation about donation amongst themselves previously often find it easier to engage in the discussion at such a stressful time.

After we have identified the possibility of donation, Organ Donation New Zealand (ODNZ) is contacted for advice and support.  Once it is clear that this opportunity exists and the patient cannot survive, a family meeting is held to explain this and to explore the possibility of donation with the family.