The Early and Long Contact Model

No matter how skilled coordinators are at speaking with families about organ donation, if the conversation is too late from the family’s point of view, or if trust hasn’t been built, even many pro-donation relatives say, “No.” Those refusals sound like, “If you’d asked us yesterday, we would’ve been glad to,” “We want to withdraw immediately,” and “We’ve got to get on with her funeral.” The research shows that many families such as these regret their refusals later on, and, certainly, these responses cost lives in un-transplanted organs.

The purpose of this one-day workshop is to familiarize coordinators with The Early and Long Contact model of talking to families about organ donation. Its objectives are to:

  • Understand the Model, its research support, and history;
  • Identify:
    • Markers for the use of the model;
    • Basic requirements for implementation;
    • How to help families by using the Model;
  • Examine the ethical objections to the Model;
  • Practice skills for selling the Model to hospitals;
  • Understand the practical tasks of the coordinator in both brain death and futility conversations.

Read about the History of the Early and Long Contact Model.

Although this was the first model for approaching families used in the U.S. and is the one supported by research, relatively few OPOs in the country current employ this strategy.

We developed this workshop for coordinators when we worked in the United Kingdom. It was an important piece of implementing evidence-based best practices there and helped them raise their donor rates by 50% in 5 years. Our experience there reinforced for us how flawed much of the current practice around approaching families continues to be in the U.S. and sensitized us to the practical problems of implementing evidence-based best practice in hospitals. We revised this workshop to fit current problems in the U.S. that our clients’ databases indicate are costing significant numbers of donors. Our initial offering in the U.S. was in Miami, and we (and our client) were happy with the response.

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