Knowledge about transplantation and attitudes toward organ donation: a survey among medical students in northeast Brazil

M M D Dutra, T A S Bonfim, I S Pereira, I C Figueiredo, A M D Dutra, A A Lopes
Transplantation Proceedings 2004, 36 (4): 818-20
During the registration for the second semester of 2002, 779 of the 1001 students from the Medical School, Federal University of Bahia, Brazil, answered an anonymous multiple-choice questionnaire including demographic variables, knowledge about transplantation issues, and willingness to donate organs. Mean age was 21.9 +/- 2.9 years (range: 17 to 51 years); 59.5% were men. Regarding the knowledge of which organs and tissues could be transplanted, 99.1% answered kidneys, 96.1% heart, 88.2% liver, 41.1% lung, 24.0% pancreas, 9% bowel, 98.3% corneas, 89.5% bone marrow, 38.1% heart valves, 47.7% skin, and 18.5% bone and tendons. Regarding the criteria of death, 82.4% answered that it is the lack of all brain activity, 8.2% cardiac arrest, 5.2% irreversible coma, and 4.2% did not know. As to the Brazilian transplantation law, 47.3% did not know, 51% had heard about it, and 1.7% answered that they knew the law in detail. As to the willingness to donate organs, 538 (69.2%) were donors. Of 239 nondonors, 51.1% answered the reason for not donating was the lack of confidence in the heath system, 14.3% had no knowledge of the matter, 17.7% were concerned about organ removal before brain death, and 1.7% for religious reasons. The percentage of those willing to donate organs was greater among spiritualists than among Catholics and Protestants. The results of this study support a greater emphasis on providing information regarding transplantation in medical schools to improve the knowledge of future heath care professionals about transplantation and organ donation issues.

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