College of Arts and Sciences
Primary Subject Area
Health Sciences, Nursing
Anencephaly, neural tube defect, organ donation, nursing, palliative care
Maternal, Child Health and Neonatal Nursing
Ryskamp, Jessica L., "Anencephaly: Concepts of Personhood, Ethical Questions, and Nursing Care" (2010). Senior Honors Theses. 199.
Anencephaly is a neural tube defect that severely limits the lifespan of affected infants. While these infants have no higher brain function, they are still persons, and should be given the same moral and ethical considerations as healthy infants. With this in mind, organ donation procedures should follow the same guidelines that apply to other donors. Because a large part of nursing care for anencephalic infants is palliative care, nurses need appropriate training to care effectively for both the infant and the family, providing for physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual needs.