Consider the child: Minor donation is a major issue
Rezi, the child organ and tissue recipient character in Netherlands’ educational program DonorDenkers (Source: donordenkers.nl)
By Marion Siebelink
University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands. email@example.com
Pediatric organ donation: The basics
Children on the waiting list for transplantation die because of a
shortage in size-matched organs. These organs and tissues generally come
from other children. Organ donation in pediatrics is a very sensitive
process. A deeper understanding of what influences pediatric organ and
tissue procurement is a necessary step towards addressing the low number
of child donors.
Literature about donation in pediatrics is sparse. My colleagues and I
conducted a qualitative and quantitative study that approaches the
topic from four domains; medical-organizational,
psychological-communicative, social, and legal-ethical. The goal of the
study is to gain insight into the factors that influence the donation
decision, to improve the donation process in pediatrics and to
understand more about the public opinion in this respect (Siebelink et al 2012).
The overall target of this study is to optimize the complex chain of
events that constitute pediatric organ donation, in order to stimulate a
careful approach that will support better decisions at every stage and
help develop best practices. To learn more about the study there is an original Dutch press release on the research from the University Medical Center Groningen.
Public awareness and education
The public campaigns to promote organ donation only focus on adults.
The question is how to increase the awareness of young people. From
earlier research we know that children from a certain age are able and
willing to think about this topic. (Siebelink et al 2011).
Children need proper information to form an opinion about organ
donation. One way to reach children is with educational programs in
school. In the Netherlands we created a digital educational website
(thinking about donation) for children aged 11 -13 years old. This is
the first formal educational lesson plan of its kind in the world. The
effects of this module and our study findings highlight how important it
is to present proper information which can also trigger a family
discussion. Some people are convinced that children at this age are too
young to think about this topic, however our research and experience
shows the opposite.
What do you think is the best age to start a discussion on organ
donation and what is the best place to do so? At home or in school?
Siebelink MJ, Albers MJ, Roodbol PF, van de Wiel HB. 2012 Key factors
in paediatric organ and tissue donation: an overview of literature in a
chronological working model. Transplant International 25(3): 265-271.
Siebelink MJ, Albers MJ, Roodbol PF, van de Wiel HB. 2011. Children’s opinions about organ donation: a first step to assent? European Journal of Public Health, June 2011.