The Tough Ones: Asking for Organ Donations over the Phone

Under optimal conditions, all families would be asked to donate organs in person by someone who has their trust and can give them all the time and attention they need to get through the hospitalizations and deaths of their loved ones. Unfortunately, that’s not always possible. Sometimes, families live at a considerable distances from their loved ones, referral calls are late, doctors and/or families make quick, unexpected decisions to withdraw life support, or OPOs are short-staffed and coordinators can’t be everywhere at once. Sometimes, unfortunately, the conversation has to take place on the phone.

This 2-day workshop organizes the best practices of phone requests for organs into 18 principles and provides specific instruction on how to operationalize those principles in conversations. For instance, Principle # 2 Apply Social Science Research findings, covers self-relevant cues, establishing trust, demonstrating caring, tailoring your request to fit the family’s goals, bringing latent factors to the forefront to expand goals, asking for confirmation, and establishing a shared identity.

Our experience tells us that the majority of these calls are to the families of DCD donors who want to withdraw quickly. But we will ask you to send us your phone data before the workshop so we can validate that assumption and make adjustments to the instruction accordingly.

All 18 principles are covered on the first day of the workshop and some are embedded with mini-role plays. The second day is devoted to role-playing and to particulars of the conversation that can’t be taught didactically. Often, time is spent on un-learning common practices that lose donations, e.g. framing the conversation as being about the donor’s wishes, asking permission to give information, ignoring concerns that are expressed more than once, and giving up when families are in disagreement. Always, there are practice opportunities for correctly framing ownership of the decision, giving information, and questioning.

Because adults learn so much from each other and from seeing behaviors modeled, we think this workshop is best offered to a group of 13-24 participants in a two-day format with two instructors. However, we also offer it in a two-day format for 6-12 participants with one instructor. Some of our clients prefer that option. Whatever your preference, when you book we will send instructions for putting the workshop on.

Have specific questions answered

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.