attitudes of health care
Since the first corneal transplant in 1905, improved surgical techniques and the development of immunosuppressive drugs have led to excellent success rates for organ and tissue transplantation procedures. This chapter will focus on the cadaveric donation of tissue and the attitudes towards it of health professionals, because they are key players in the donation-transplantation process.
The chapter begins with an overview of cadaveric tissue donation, including what can currently be transplanted. It will then present what is known about health professionals' attitudes to and knowledge of tissue donation and the impact that these have on donation rates. Attitudes, their components and their effect upon behaviour are explored using theories arising from social psychology to explain how these influence actual or intended behaviours associated with the discussion of donation wishes with relatives of the potential donor. Since some tissues, such as blood and bone marrow, can only normally be donated during life, these will be excluded since the behaviours associated with blood donation differ significantly from those associated with cadaveric tissue donation.
Before progressing further, it is timely to explain what tissue can be donated and why tissue donation and transplantation are differentiated from that of organs, because, arguably, all the material transplanted is human tissue. It is generally accepted that organ donation and transplantation refers to solid organs such as heart, lung, liver and kidney. Tissue, however, includes the following: