Pre-mortem Interventions for Donation After Circulatory Death and Overall Benefit: A Qualitative Study

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External organisations

  • University of Birmingham


This paper explores how the type of consent given for organ donation should affect the judgment of a patient’s overall benefit with regards to donation of their organs and the pre-mortem interventions required to facilitate this. The findings of a qualitative study of the views of 10 healthcare professionals, combined with a philosophical analysis inform the conclusion that how consent to organ donation is given is a reliable indicator only of the strength of evidence about views on donation and subsequent willingness to undergo pre-mortem interventions. It is not an indicator of the strength of actual desire to donate. Clinical management of living patients prior to donation after circulatory death (DCD) must therefore respect the values, wishes and beliefs of the potential DCD
donor. Our participants, however, suggested that the information currently provided is sufficient to authorise donation and that this consent, however provided, was sufficient to proceed with pre-mortem interventions. Respect for autonomy underpinned this ‘all or nothing’ approach. Although the legal requirements for donation authorisation and the protection of patients without capacity are clear, practice and policy regarding consent in DCD may be based on donation following brainstem death (DBD) where the patient is already dead when the family is approached. Custom and practice in DCD may need to be revised to protect the interests of the dying potential donor.


Original languageEnglish
JournalClinical Ethics
Early online date6 Jul 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 Jul 2016