Organ Donation, comment

Organ donation at death is indeed a sensitive subject which, as the writer states, must be approached with sensitivity and empathy. When organs are donated, however, the transplant recipient receives hope and a chance at life. Many parts of the human body can be harvested, and while it used to be rare to care for a transplant recipient, it is now quite common in all areas of health care to receive patients who may have had a transplant either recently or years ago. Of course these patients must continue to take anti-rejection medications on a life long basis; therefore it is a must that the nurse be familiar with these medications. Cyclosporin is generally the drug of choice for the transplant recipient. It is used to prevent primary rejection and is usually taken in conjunction with prednisone, a glucocorticoid. When given in liquid form, it must be accurately measured with a calibrated pipette and can be mixed with milk or orange juice. Since this medication suppresses rejection, it also places the patient at a risk for infection in addition to the immunosuppresent effects of the glucocorticoid. The nurses must be watchful of signs of infection and organ rejection, and teach these to the patient as well. Cyclosporin is a nephrotoxic medication; BUN and serum creatinine must be monitored along with drug levels, which should be drawn just prior to the next dose. The nurse must know that elevated BUN and creatinine along with low cyclosporin levels might indicate organ rejection. We must know what medications increase or decrease its effects, since this can be life threatening. One important food interaction is grapefruit juice which may raise systemic cyclosporin levels dramatically. Finally, the nurse must practice aseptic technique in all invasive procedures and maintain a clean environment while reinforcing teaching to the patient and family about minimizing the risk for infection and rejection. The patient must become knowledgeable about all aspects of this medication and the care of their transplant.

Original Post
April 2, 2010
Title: Organ Donation
The question of organ donation at the time of death can be a difficult one for many people to answer, especially if the death was sudden and unexpected. A great deal of sensitivity is needed to effectively approach families with the subject. The manner in which this is conducted has the potential to leave either devastation in its wake or a very positive outcome for all involved. Having experienced this on a personal level made me acutely aware of the need for everyone involved in the process to possess excellent communication skills and empathy for the suffering of others. As a health care professional, I see firsthand the positive outcomes of organ donation. As a family member, hearing that voice on the other end of the phone asking what body parts were willing to be donated and for what purpose, was devastating. We need to create an environment and an atmosphere that supports organ donation and convey that to every survivor’s family with whom we interact. You never know when it might be you.

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