Letter: Transplant consent

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Sir: The recent correspondence regarding organ transplantation has been interesting, and in part alarming. To me, as a nurse, it seems that medical science and technology have progressed with little regard for ethical values.

At the start of my nursing training I was taught to have just as much respect for the dead as the living, and the deceased patient was always left for an hour before our final caring was carried out. Over the years I worked in many units, and never met one nurse who challenged this approach. More recently, in charge of wards which received people with head injuries, that is potential organ donors, a problem arose.

I know that relatives never had the procedure for organ removal fully explained to them - nor did they ask for it. They assumed that their loved ones would be dead in the commonly understood sense, and at this tragic and emotional time it was sometimes a help to them to feel that their bereavement could help some other family.

Mr T T King (letter, 16 March) is correct when he says that many nurses dislike the use of beating-heart donors. We have a much closer relationship with patients and their relatives than the medical staff and find it alien to the principles and practice of nursing. I completed my career in the hospice movement, where people are allowed to die peacefully, and I just pray that sooner rather than later and alternative to live transplant surgery will be found.

In the meantime everyone should be offered full details of the procedure currently used before being issued with a donor card. They would then be giving informed consent.


Chaldon, Surrey