Please note that this page is intend­ed for hos­pi­tal pro­fes­sion­als. If you reached this page by mis­take, please return to our home­page.

Plan­ning the Dona­tion Conversation

Tim­ing of the dona­tion con­ver­sa­tion with the fam­i­ly of a poten­tial donor is very impor­tant. Dona­tion should be dis­cussed with dis­cre­tion and sen­si­tiv­i­ty with respect to the cir­cum­stances, views, and beliefs of the fam­i­lies of poten­tial donors so that they make their best dona­tion deci­sion in one of their worst moments. Ear­ly and unplanned men­tions of dona­tion before a fam­i­ly has accept­ed that their loved one will not sur­vive can be per­ceived as insen­si­tive and may lead to dis­trust of the health­care pro­fes­sion­al. There­fore, the dona­tion con­ver­sa­tion should be sep­a­rat­ed from and occur fol­low­ing deter­mi­na­tion of death or after the fam­i­ly has made the deci­sion to dis­con­tin­ue the ven­ti­la­tor and oth­er mechan­i­cal or chem­i­cal cir­cu­la­to­ry sup­port. The dona­tion con­ver­sa­tion should also be dis­cussed accord­ing to a plan that is iden­ti­fied and agreed upon by the health­care team and the Iowa Donor Net­work coor­di­na­tor dur­ing the dona­tion huddle.

The Dona­tion Huddle

The goal of a dona­tion hud­dle is to ensure that the health­care team and Iowa Donor Net­work work togeth­er to devel­op a plan to dis­cuss dona­tion with the fam­i­ly. A dona­tion hud­dle between the health­care team and an Iowa Donor Net­work rep­re­sen­ta­tive should occur pri­or to any dis­cus­sion of dona­tion with the family.

Goals of the Huddle:

      1. Deter­mine the next steps in the plan of care.
      2. Deter­mine reg­istry sta­tus, legal next-of-kin, fam­i­ly dynam­ics, and needs of the family.
      3. Iden­ti­fy the right time, right place and right per­son to offer dona­tion to the family.

Steps to a suc­cess­ful planned dona­tion conversation:

  1. Con­duct a dona­tion hud­dle – it’s a team approach!
  2. Health­care team deter­mines death by neu­ro­log­i­cal cri­te­ria and com­mu­ni­cates diag­no­sis to the fam­i­ly (ensure fam­i­ly ver­bal­izes understanding).
  3. Health­care team and IDN coor­di­na­tor speak to fam­i­ly togeth­er in a pri­vate setting.
  4. Health­care team intro­duces IDN coor­di­na­tor to the family.
  5. IDN dis­cuss­es dona­tion with the fam­i­ly or the fam­i­ly is made aware that their loved one is a reg­is­tered donor.

Remember.…donation is a con­ver­sa­tion to be had, not just a ques­tion, and nev­er a mere mention.

Addi­tion­al Resources: 

Dona­tion Hud­dles and Plan­ning the Organ Dona­tion Conversation
Com­mu­ni­cat­ing Cat­a­stroph­ic Brain Injuries to a Family
Help­ing Fam­i­lies Under­stand Brain Death and Com­mu­ni­cat­ing Brain Death Diag­no­sis to Fam­i­lies
Help­ing Fam­i­lies Before and Through the Dona­tion Process
Car­ing for Donor Fam­i­lies: Fam­i­ly Sup­port and Sup­port­ive Language

Our Vision:

All are inspired to donate life.