The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Institutional Repository

The UK postmortem organ retention crisis: a qualitative study of its impact on parents

Sque, Magi, Long, Tracy, Payne, Sheila, Roche, William R. and Speck, Peter (2008) The UK postmortem organ retention crisis: a qualitative study of its impact on parents Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 101, (2), pp. 71-77. (doi:10.1258/jrsm.2007.060178). (PMID:18299626).

Record type: Article


OBJECTIVE: to explore the impact of postmortem organ retention on parents who made enquiries about their babies and children when the retention of hearts and other organs removed at postmortem and stored without explicit knowledge or consent of the next-of-kin came to public attention in the UK during 1999-2004.

DESIGN: qualitative study conducted 2003-2004. Data were collected via semi-structured, qualitative interviews and focus groups.

PARTICIPANTS: 39 parents who had been affected by organ retention.

SETTING: participants were recruited via three parental peer support groups and two NHS Hospital Trusts.

RESULTS: transcripts of the interviews and focus groups were analysed using a thematic approach that sought patterns within the data and highlighted important similarities and differences between participants' accounts. Participants reported the distressing impact organ retention had on their lives; their need for information about the retention of their babies' or children's organs; and the difficulties in their decision making about disposal of retained body parts and tissue blocks and slides. Analysis indicated that organ retention had evoked unresolved bereavement issues and a renewal of grief as well as an opportunity for some parents to resolve ongoing bereavement concerns.

CONCLUSIONS: parents in this study wanted NHS teams to appreciate the difficulties organ retention had caused them, deal with their enquiries proactively with openness and honesty, and facilitate an environment where they felt supported and could gain the answers to their questions and concerns that were provoked by postmortem organ retention. Such issues may also have implications for the care of other parents and relatives of deceased children.

Full text not available from this repository.

More information

Published date: April 2008


Local EPrints ID: 70868
ISSN: 0141-0768
PURE UUID: f21c1eaa-8a49-4285-9091-4fc629e3f34c

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 09 Mar 2010
Last modified: 19 Jul 2017 00:03

Export record



Author: Magi Sque
Author: Tracy Long
Author: Sheila Payne
Author: William R. Roche
Author: Peter Speck

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.