Planning for end-of-life decision making

“It is a privilege to work with families during this difficult time in their lives and to play a role in the good that can come from giving the gift of life,” said Dr. Adrian Robertson, Medical Director, Gift of Life Program.

Donor coordinators are specially trained in the art of donation discussions and are skilled at supporting families who are in their darkest hours. To address a recently approved WRHA policy – Multi-Organ Donation: Routine Notification – donor coordinators have been attending education days and unit huddles with medical staff in Winnipeg to share lanyards, information cards and a new clinical poster highlighting when the Transplant Manitoba – Gift of Life should be contacted.

The purpose of the policy is to identify patients who meet donor criteria and have emergency department and/or critical care staff notify the team of potential candidates within Winnipeg. The policy supports the Human Tissue Gift Act of Manitoba, which requires Transplant Manitoba – Gift of Life be notified by the physician that death of the person is imminent and inevitable, which means end-of-life discussions have taken place and the patient is being ventilated.

When the team has been contacted, donor coordinators work with medical staff to carefully screen all referrals to eliminate those who have specific illnesses that may make donation impossible. The idea is to provide real opportunity to families, and avoid getting hopes up by speaking too soon or to someone who wouldn’t qualify.

Transplant Manitoba – Gift of Life values the relationships that the physicians and nurses have developed with the family and the donor coordinators are working in partnership with the medical team so the family can make an informed decision regarding organ and tissue donation.

Compassionate end-of-life care and the opportunity for organ and tissue donation is every family’s right and the responsibility of all members of the donation and healthcare team.