More than 114,000 men, women and children are currently listed on the national transplant waiting list. Unfortunately, there are not enough organ donors registered to give those in need a second chance at life. This is partially because urban legends, misconceptions and inaccuracies about organ donation make some people hesitant to register on the donor list.
If you are on the fence about becoming an organ donor, it’s probably because of one of the myths below. Every 10 minutes, a new name is added to the national transplant waiting list, and while 90% of U.S. adults say they support organ donation only 60% are actually signed up. I hope that by clearing up the confusion around who is eligible to donate and the way the organ donation process works, I can help persuade you to consider becoming an organ donor this year.
If Emergency Room Doctors Know I’m An Organ Donor, They Won’t Work as Hard to Save Me — FALSE
If you are sick or injured and admitted to the hospital, the number one priority is to save your life. Organ donation can only be considered after brain death has been declared by a physician. Many states have adopted legislation allowing individuals to legally designate their wish to be a donor should brain death occur, although in many states organ procurement organizations also require consent from the donor's family.
Organs Can Be Bought or Sold on the Black Market — FALSE
This urban legend has been widely circulated over the Internet and has no basis in the reality of organ transplantation. The buying and selling of organs and tissues is illegal, as part of the National Organ Transplant Act. Due to the complexity of transplantation, it would be impossible for this to happen.
Rich and Famous People Can Jump to The Front of the Waiting List Ahead of Everyone Else — FALSE
When you are on the transplant waiting list for a donor organ, what really counts is the severity of your illness, time spent waiting, blood type and other important medical information – not how much money you may have or your celebrity status. There are several factors used to match organs with patients in need. The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), has policies and computerized networks that align transplant candidates with donated organs in ways that save as many lives as possible, along with providing patients with the best chance of long-term wellness. Factors such race, ethnicity, religion, income, insurance or celebrity play absolutely no role in who is prioritized for transplant.
I’m Too Old to Be A Donor — FALSE
People of all ages and medical histories should consider themselves potential donors. Senior citizens in their 90s have been organ donors, and in 2019, 1 out of every 3 people who donated organs was over the age of 50. Your medical condition at the time of death will determine what organs and tissue can be donated. Don’t let your age keep you from saving someone’s life!
My Medical History Means My Organ or Tissue Are Unfit for Donation — FALSE
At the time of death, the appropriate medical professionals will review your medical and social histories to determine whether or not you can be a donor. With recent advances in transplantation, more people than ever before can be donors. It's best to tell your family your wishes and sign up to be an organ and tissue donor on your driver's license or an official donor document.
Organ Donation Is Against My Religion — FALSE
All major organized religions approve of organ and tissue donation and consider it an act of charity. The U.S. Government Information on Organ Donation and Transplantation has actually compiled a list of official statements and policies released by religious leaders which you can find here. If you are unsure or uncomfortable though, contact someone at the clergy within your church or place of worship for a consultation.
Becoming an Organ Donor is Complicated and Takes a Lot of Time — FALSE
It’s easy for you to register to be an organ donor! You can register online at ochsner.org/save9. You can also register at your local Office of Motor Vehicles when you are renewing your driver’s license or state identification card.
I Can Save Lives by Becoming an Organ Donor — TRUE!
This is absolutely true - a registered organ donor can save up to nine lives!
A registered organ donor can save up to 9 lives. Learn more at Ochsner.org/save9