Counseling and Human Services
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Date of Award
Proquest Document ID
St. Mary's University
The purpose of this study was to examine the lives of those who have consented to organ donation at the time of an unexpected death of a loved one. The qualitative data illuminated participants’ experiences as members of donor families as they shared their observations and experiences from the initial loss forward. The participants in this study included eight women and one man who were the primary next-of-kin and the individual who provided consent to donate the organs. The results indicated that there are steps in the care of these families that could be improved, allowing for better care of donor families in the future. Participants shared that understanding the undertaking of organ donation would have better equipped them for their process of grief recovery. Participants also indicated that negative interactions with medical professionals prior to organ donation complicated their processing of their loss. Recommendations were made to address donor families’ unique bereavement needs. Future research should focus on (a) assessing the extent of donor families’ bereavement challenges including those who do not remain connected to the organ procurement organization through volunteer work, (b) examining the potential for benefit or harm in relationships between donor families and recipients, and (c) the experiences and care of minor children in donor families.
Meeker, Linda, "Donor Families’ Experiences from Initial Loss Forward: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis" (2020). Theses & Dissertations. 44.
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