Purpose. Asking the family of a deceased patient to consider eye donation is one of the most difficult aspects of the donation process. The aim of this prospective study was to describe the content of interviews with the families of potential donors and to analyze their reactions to improve the process of eye donation.
Methods. We consecutively met with 151 families of suitable corneal donors at the Rouen University Hospital. All interviews with donor families were analyzed using a preestablished questionnaire.
Results. In only 17.9% of cases was the family aware of the potential donor's last will. In 77.7% of these cases, the patient wished to donate. Procurement rate was 71.5%. This acceptance was mostly facilitated by the awareness and motivation of the hospital staff, the experience of the physician, and the 13.3-h period of time allowed after the donor's death. The commitment on the part of the ophthalmologist to carry out optimal anatomical restoration was a very important point for 32% of families who accepted donation. Twenty-one percent of families asked for a delay for reflection. This delay helped to obtain a positive response in 72.7% of cases and even sometimes helped families to reconsider a previously negative position (14% of initial refusals).
Conclusion. We demonstrate that a high positive response (71.5%) can be obtained from the donor's family when a trained and motivated group manages the post-mortem cornea donation request.