Searching for meaningful aftermaths: donor family experiences and expressions in New York and Denmark

Anja Marie Bornø Jensen


Experiencing the process of consenting to organ donation can be traumatic and devastating to organ donor families. By empirically focusing on Danish and North American donor families, this article argues that donor families are searching for a meaningful aftermath by trying to interpret their experiences in various ways. The discussion of the complexity of how the donor family experiences are perceived and articulated is unfolded by focusing on the attempts to reinterpret brain death, the idea of organ donors "living on", and the perception of the organ donor as a hero or a good citizen. The study shows that the donor family experiences and recollections are deeply affected by the organisational context for families, the social interaction with staffs, and by the values and ideologies connected to organ donation in the specific cultural and national context.


Denmark; United States; organ donation; donor families; brain death

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