the better approach

The Better Approach to Words

Suggested use of terms for reporters

We ask that reporters writing stories about tissue donation consider using terminology which is respectful to the donor and the donation process. This MTF bulletin explains how to do that and why:

The better approach to words
They’re just words. Why should it matter in the donation/transplant world whether we say “harvest tissue” or “recover tissue?” Who cares?

Because words influence how others think about the work we do. They create impressions, images and expectations. Words can hurt. Below is a guideline for using appropriate donation terminology developed by the Donor Family Council of the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations (AOPO) and endorsed by MTF’s Donor Family Council. Insensitive words can contribute to public misconceptions about organ and tissue donation, so we would like to suggest a better approach to word choices. Most of these changes have been made in response to comments from donor families.

Harvest... People don’t grow in straight rows in cornfields. Crops are harvested, people aren’t. The more sensitive words are procure, recover, or retrieve.

Cadaver... A cadaver is a dead body intended for dissection. This definition inaccurately reflects the procedure of tissue recovery. To be both factually accurate and sensitive to donor families, use the term deceased donor.

Product... Tissues from donors are not products. Respect for the gift of donation is better served by using the words allograft, tissue graft, tissue form, or by simply naming the specific types of tissues and their uses.

Cadaver Graft... .If we all agree that the source of donated tissue is from a deceased donor rather than a cadaver, then the use of Cadaver Graft is also unnecessary.