National Kidney Foundation and American Association of Critical Care Nurses Partner on New Organ Donation Education Program

New York, NY
November 16, 1998

In order to meet new challenges set forth by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) and the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN) announced today plans to develop a comprehensive program to educate nurses about the organ and tissue donation process. The program will be available to hospitals across the country as they respond to the new federal guidelines on organ and tissue donation.

The new program represents the second generation of NKF/AACN's "Making the Critical Difference" nursing education program that was released in 1991 and has educated more than 10,000 nurses through 450 workshops. The new program will examine established policies and services provided by the procurement community to hospitals, concentrating on identification of potential donors and early referral to organ procurement organizations. The program will focus on the roles of all the professionals involved in the donation process and their effective collaborative interaction. It will cover timely topics such as brain death, complex coroner cases, current bereavement models, cultural diversity and new legislation. As with the original program, the goal is to provide all potential donor families with the opportunity to make an informed decision about organ and tissue donation.

Says Margaret B. Coolican, RN, MS, CDE, chairman of the National Kidney Foundation's National Donor Family Council, "The process of donation begins with the incident causing the death and continues through the bereavement. Every health care professional who interacts with the family is part of the process and every step impacts on the families' ultimate decisions regarding donation. This program will be designed to ensure optimal communication between the grieving families and health care professionals."

According to AACN president, Barbara Mayer, RN, MSN, "After collecting eight years' worth of outcomes data from participants in the original program, we are certain that this new educational and emotionally supportive training program will meet the needs of our health care professionals."

In addition to NKF and AACN, the North American Transplant Coordinators Organization (NATCO) and the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations (AOPO) will be key collaborators in the new program's development. A task force comprised of representatives from each of the four organizations will meet over the course of the next 18 months. The initial launch of this new initiative is funded in part by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation.

For more information on the program's development or to offer suggestions, call the National Kidney Foundation at (800) 622-9010.