Date of Award

Spring 5-16-2011

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Social Work (DSW)

First Advisor

Ram Cnaan

Second Advisor

Lina Hartocollis

Third Advisor

Mary Mazolla

Abstract

ABSTRACT

FAMILY PROCESS THROUGH THE PRISM OF LIVING DONATION:

COURAGE, COERCION, CALCULUS AND COALESCENCE

Living donor liver transplantation is a relatively recent worldwide development in the field of transplantation due to a shortage of cadaveric organs. In 1989, the first successful living donor liver transplantation was performed (Gruessner & Benedetti, 2008, p.439) and by 2009 it had become an established way to treat end stage liver disease. The reasons that an individual decides to donate remain poorly understood. There are serious medical and psychological risks to the donor that necessitate careful psychosocial assessment prior to donation. Family processes for selecting a donor must be theoretically as well as clinically explored to refine our understanding of living donation. This study’s intent was to give voice to the experiences of a small number of transplant professionals experienced in working with living donors and their families. The work of the object relations theorists Klein, Kohut, and Winnicott provide background for this qualitative research study while the methods of Weiss (1994) were used to analyze the semi-structured intensive interviews. This research sheds light on the health care professionals’ perceptions of the experience of living liver donors and their families and offers direction for transplant social workers as they guide potential donors and donor families through the donation process.