OBJECTIVE: To investigate whether the accident and emergency department (A&E) is a potential source of tissues for donation, from non-heart beating donors (NHBDs). METHODS: A telephone survey of 30 A&E departments was conducted to determine current tissue harvesting practices from NHBDs. The potential number of tissue donors in our own medium sized district general hospital A&E department was estimated. Senior nursing staff were asked to complete a questionnaire to establish their knowledge, attitudes, and experience of tissue harvesting from NHBDs. RESULTS: Only seven of the 30 A&E departments surveyed (23%) had an active involvement in requesting tissue donation after a sudden death. Several others had limited experience. The level of involvement was unrelated to department size. In our own A&E department, there were 110 deaths in 1995. Tissue donation had occurred on just three occasions. However, departmental staff attitudes towards reducing this shortfall were positive. CONCLUSIONS: The A&E department is a resource of tissues for donation, which is currently under used.
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