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Liver transplantation: The death/life paradox


  • Judy Lumby RN ICN BA MHPEd PhD

    1. EMLane Chair of Surgical Nursing, Faculty of Nursing and Associate Director, Nursing Research Centre for Adaptation in Health and Illness, University of Sydney, Concord Hospital, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
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Lumby J. International Journal of Nursing Practice 1997; 3: 231–238

Liver transplantation: The death/life paradox

Transplantation of organs has increased dramatically over the last 3 decades. The Australian National Liver Transplant Unit was established in 1985 at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. Their first 5 years was reported in a paper in 1992 in which survival was defined as ‘going home’. The study reported in this paper followed a 3 year study with one woman who experienced a liver transplant in which survival had many dimensions, of which going home was not one. This post doctoral study of 2 years extended the earlier work with one woman by exploring the experience with eight ‘survivors’. It highlighted the paradox of facing life and death at the same time, which occurs when one has a terminal illness but is on a waiting list for a donor organ which could be life saving. Focus groups were used as the methodology while story telling within the group became the means by which individuals and the group recalled and made meaning of their experiences.