"The most important thing is to have a conversation about organ donation with your family"

"The most important thing is to have a conversation about organ donation with your family"

Catharina Pijls Encouragement Award for thesis on organ donation

12-01-2023 · Interview

People who want to donate their organs after death, benefit more from a good talk with their family than the registration as a donor. Jule Robertz states this in her thesis, which she wrote for her master’s of Governance and Leadership in European Health Promotion. She received the Catharina Pijls Encouragement Award for an excellent thesis in the field of health sciences on Thursday, 12 January.

Robertz has been interested in the subject of organ donation for some time; for her bachelor’s thesis she looked into the ethical dilemmas regarding an opt-in (people have to personally register as a donor) and an opt-out system (everyone is automatically a donor, unless they deregister). Ultimately it does not make any difference, she concluded at the time, as it is often the family that decides.

“We mustn’t forget that every donation is preceded by a tragic loss. You can only donate under specific circumstances, which often means that someone has been in an accident and is brain-dead. How far do you go to fulfil someone’s wishes? Do you remove parents from the room so that you can proceed with the donation. On the other hand, not fulfilling someone’s last wish goes against the person’s autonomy to decide what happens with his or her body. I find those considerations interesting.”

Robertz looked at various countries, including Spain, which is regarded as the gold standard. “The percentage of donations there is the highest worldwide.” Providing good information helps, not in the last place in order to dispel misconceptions. “An organ donor receives the same good care as someone who is not a donor. You also have to explain that an organ donation does not look anything like you see in television series and films. So not just a throbbing helicopter that rushes the organ to the receiver. There is actually a very meticulous protocol that is followed.”

Spain also has doctors who have specialised in organ donation. “They talk with the family. In other countries this is done by the doctor on duty, who doesn’t necessarily have much experience with such cases.”

The most important thing, according to Robertz, is however, that people talk about it. “Talk with your family and your partner about what you would like. That is one of the good things about the switch that the Netherlands has made from an opt-in to an opt-out system, which is what got people talking.”

Author: Cleo Freriks

Photo: Karolina Grabowska via Pexels

Categories: news_top, Science
Tags: catharinapijls2023,catharina pijl encourgement prize,health promotion,health sciences,organ donation,instagram

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