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Intensive Care: A Guide for You and Your Family

If your loved one doesn’t survive

Sometimes people in the ICU are too ill and don’t survive even with the best efforts of the healthcare team. A person dies when their heart stops beating or brain stops working (brain death).

If the doctors believe that your loved one is brain dead they’ll do a series of detailed tests to make sure. It may help you to talk to a bereavement counsellor or attend a support group at this difficult time. They can offer support and understanding for adults and children. You can find information about some of these supports by reading about grief and bereavement.

Family or next of kin may be asked if they’d like to consider organ or tissue donation. Knowing how your loved one feels about organ and tissue donation can help you make the right decision for your family. This is a hard decision and is a personal choice based on your values and beliefs. It may not be right for all families. Your wishes will be respected. Many families who agree to donate one or more of their loved one’s organs find it comforting that something good will come from their loss.

If you and your family support your loved one’s wishes or choose to donate organs or tissues as part of the end-of-life care for your loved one, a donor coordinator will talk to you. Talk to the ICU staff if you have questions or want to find out if this is something to consider in your situation.

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