Six Common Organ Donation Myths Debunked

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More than 121,000 men, women and children are on the national transplant waiting list. Unfortunately, there are not enough organ donors registered to give those in need a second chance at life.

Urban legends, misconceptions and inaccuracies about organ donation have flooded the Internet, making people hesitant to sign up.

Did you know that there are a number of myths surrounding organ donation? Don’t let these myths confuse you. Here are the facts you need to know.

  1. Myth: If emergency room doctors know I’m an organ donor, they won't work as hard to save me.
    Fact: 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.
  2. Myth: The rich and famous can be pushed to the top of the waiting list over anyone else.
    Fact: 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.
  3. Myth: Only hearts, livers, and kidneys can be transplanted.
    Fact: Needed organs include the heart, kidneys, pancreas, lungs, liver and intestines. Tissue that can be donated include the eyes, skin, bone, heart valves and tendons.
  4. Myth: My medical illness history means my organs or tissues are unfit for donation.
    Fact: 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.
  5. Myth: I’m too old to be a donor.
    Fact: People of all ages and medical histories should consider themselves potential donors. Your medical condition at the time of death will determine what organs and tissue can be donated.
  6. Myth: Organ donation is against my religion.
    Fact: All major organized religions approve of organ and tissue donation and consider it an act of charity. If you are unsure or uncomfortable though, contact someone at the clergy within your church.
  7. Myth: Organs can be bought or sold on the black market.
    Fact: 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.

Click here to find out more facts about organ donation.