In this section
Note: This guideline is currently under review.
Definition of Terms
Standard Tissue Donation and Age Criteria
This guideline has been developed to provide staff with an overview of the tissue donation process. Many of the patients at RCH who are palliated on the wards or at home may be suitable for tissue donation. Ashkenazi and Cohen (2015) found that tissue donation was linked to a positive experience, as well as reducing the family’s grief and improving personal growth. Offering tissue donation to families of patients who will die is an important part of end of life care. Tissue donation has shown to be important to families who believe that donation honors the legacy of their loved one and believing that something good came from the death (Hogan et al, 2013). This guideline has been developed to provide staff with an overview of the tissue donation process.
It is important to note that while information will be provided in this guideline for medical suitability to donate tissues, medical suitability should ultimately be decided by the Tissue Bank staff.
Tissue donation: the donation of tissues such as eyes, heart valves, skin, bone and tendons for the purpose of transplantation into others. These can be retrieved within 24 hours of death.
Organ donation: the donation of whole organs such as heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, pancreas and intestines for the purpose of transplantation into others. Organs can only be donated by people who die in an intensive care unit on a ventilator.
If organ or tissue donation is raised by a family:
The major barriers to tissue donation are:
To refer a patient for tissue donation, please call the Tissue Bank on (03) 9684 4444 (If no answer, please leave a message and phone back if there has not been a response within 30 minutes). For eye only donations, please phone Lion’s Eye Donation on (03) 9929 8708. For support in regards to tissue donation, please contact RCH Medical Donation Specialist Dr Ben Gelbart through switch, or RCH Organ and Tissue Donor Coordinator Samantha Murphy on (03) 9345 6703 or 0452 223 768.For tissue donation to occur, the patient must be transferred to the Tissue Bank at the Coroner’s Court (65 Kavanagh Street, Southbank 3006). Transfer of the patient to the Tissue Bank will be arranged between the Tissue Bank and the funeral director. In some cases, the Tissue Bank may require a full autopsy to be performed, for example for bone donations. This allows for testing of “silent diseases” that may compromise a recipient. The Tissue Bank will explain this to families during the consent process. However, if such questions are raised by family members, it is recommended that the ANUM or medical staff are involved to facilitate conversations and communication between the family and the Tissue Bank.When referring a patient, the Tissue Bank will want to know:
Please be aware that this information is important in determining medical suitability to donate.
You can find the evidence table for this guideline here.
Please remember to read the disclaimer.
development of this nursing guideline was coordinated by Samantha Murphy, Nurse Coordinator Organ & Tissue Donation, Rosella Ward,
and approved by the Nursing Clinical Effectiveness Committee. Updated March 2016.