Organ retention and bereavement: Family counselling and the ethics of consultation

Drayton, John (2011) Organ retention and bereavement: Family counselling and the ethics of consultation. Ethics and Social Welfare, 5 3: 227-246. doi:10.1080/17496535.2010.548338

Author Drayton, John
Title Organ retention and bereavement: Family counselling and the ethics of consultation
Journal name Ethics and Social Welfare   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1749-6535
Publication date 2011
Year available 2011
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1080/17496535.2010.548338
Volume 5
Issue 3
Start page 227
End page 246
Total pages 20
Place of publication Abingdon, Oxon, United Kingdom
Publisher Routledge
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Taking organisational responses to the ‘organ retention scandals’ in the United Kingdom and Australia as a starting point, this paper considers the role of social welfare workers within the medico-legal system. Official responses to the inquiries of the late 1990s have focused on issues of consent and process-transparency, leaving unaddressed concerns expressed by the bereaved about the impact of organ retention on both their experience of grief and on the deceased themselves. A review of grief and embodiment literature suggests that such concerns are consistent with the significance of relationship, attachment and identity within grief resolution—however that last problematic term is defined. The case example of an Australian coronial jurisdiction which has attempted to deal with some of these issues through mandating the discussion of autopsy and organ retention processes by grief counsellors with bereaved families is then provided. A distinction is drawn between these discussions and the seeking of consent. The discussion concludes by considering the ambiguous nature of the social welfare role within this contested field, suggesting that this ambiguity, while perhaps a source of flexibility in practice, may itself relate to a lack of clear information about the needs of the bereaved. This paper contributes to the development of that knowledge and offers some necessarily tentative recommendations regarding social welfare practice in this challenging arena.
Keyword Bereavement
Self Determination
Coronial Investigation
Organ Retention
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work Publications
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Created: Wed, 16 Sep 2015, 16:27:45 EST by John Drayton on behalf of School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work