The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Institutional Repository

Gift of life or sacrifice?: Key discourses to understanding organ donor families' decision-making

Sque, M., Payne, S. and Macleod Clark, J. (2006) Gift of life or sacrifice?: Key discourses to understanding organ donor families' decision-making Mortality, 11, (2), pp. 117-132. (doi:10.1080/13576270600615260).

Record type: Article


Globally, there is a critical shortage of donor organs to meet the demands for human organ transplantation. An understanding of what motivates families to agree to donation is therefore essential to maximise organ availability. The “gift for life” is a popular discourse long associated with pro-donation and transplant activists, its use seemingly directed at heightening public awareness about the perceived benefits of organ donation. However the potential pressure and obligation implicit within such rhetoric could be detrimental to donor families. It has been suggested that the donation event is better represented as a “sacrifice” as this discourse acknowledges the suffering of the bereaved family and the possible difficulties encountered in their decision-making about organ donation. Drawing on data from three studies that explored the bereavement experiences of donor families, this paper examines the relative value of gift of life or sacrifice as discourses that contribute to a greater understanding of organ donor families’ decision-making. We propose that the compelling nature of sacrifice and the manner in which it impinges on families’ decision-making may help to explain the high refusal rates in populations that appear generally aware of the benefits of organ transplantation. Insights into the relative importance of gift of life or sacrifice to families when making decisions could potentially contribute to enhancing families’ satisfaction with their decisions, improve support to families and increase the incidence of donation.

Full text not available from this repository.

More information

Published date: May 2006
Keywords: gift of life, sacrifice, decision-making, discourse, donor families, organ donation
Organisations: Nursing & Midwifery


Local EPrints ID: 25126
ISSN: 1357-6275
PURE UUID: f3bd6bb3-3b1d-4e43-8a54-21f954345dd7

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 05 Apr 2006
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 16:11

Export record



Author: M. Sque
Author: S. Payne

University divisions

Download statistics

Downloads from ePrints over the past year. Other digital versions may also be available to download e.g. from the publisher's website.

View more statistics

Atom RSS 1.0 RSS 2.0

Contact ePrints Soton:

ePrints Soton supports OAI 2.0 with a base URL of

This repository has been built using EPrints software, developed at the University of Southampton, but available to everyone to use.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.