Tissue donation is a possibility for a large number of patients who have died; however, this is not a familiar topic in palliative care and can lead to difficult conversations.  Corneal donation is one such example; while many patients are eligible and have expressed a wish to become a donor, barriers to discussing donation can prevent this from happening. Barriers include concerns by health professionals regarding lack of knowledge, and concerns about enucleation.  As a result, donation levels remain low, with one study in Sydney describing a donation rate of only 2.5% from palliative care inpatient units.  Yet if the topic is approached in a sensitive manner it can have a positive effect on bereavement.
Suitability for tissue donation is determined after death has occurred and each case needs to be assessed individually, as there can be contraindications. The age of the person who has died, is not a contraindication.
Some patients may wish to donate their bodies to science in the hope of assisting others through research.
Visit the Australian Organ Donor Register
Visit the DonateLife website to learn more about donating
This information was drawn from the following resources:
Visit the Australian Organ Donor Register Website
Organ donation details can be found on the DontateLife website
Access more After-Death Care resources
Last updated 20 August 2021