A survey of personal and professional attitudes of intensivists to organ donation and transplantation

I. Y. Pearson*, Y. Zurynski

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


A questionnaire survey was carried out to examine the attitudes and practices of Australian and New Zealand intensivists with regard to brain death and organ donation. A return rate of 82.5% was achieved. Fifty-eight per cent had written evidence of their own wishes to donate organs and 94% would agree to donation from a dependent. At least one intensivist is involved in certifying brain death on 95% of occasions. Intensivists are involved in the request for organ donation over 90% of the time although one-third do not believe that it is their role to request organ donation. Although two-thirds believe that the family should always be approached for organ donation, another 52 out of 254 indicated that it was their (the intensivist's) role to decide if families should be asked for organ donation. Possible reasons for not requesting are language or other communication problems, perceptions of cultural differences and degrees of family distress. Twenty per cent of respondents do not provide haemodynamic support before brain death confirmation. Australian and New Zealand intensivists overwhelmingly support the concept of brain death, current methods of confirmation of brain death organ donation and transplantation. Possible reasons behind loss of potential donors include decisions not to resuscitate both before and after brain death is confirmed. Perceptions of family grief and cultural differences clearly inhibit requests for organ donation. A very few units have an effective policy on approaching families about organ donation. Intensivists have almost exclusive control over requests for organ donation and thus bear a full professional responsibility for this element of hospital practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)68-74
Number of pages7
JournalAnaesthesia and Intensive Care
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • Attitudes
  • Brain death
  • Organ donation
  • Professional
  • Transplantation


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