Organ Donating Myths

Myth: Donors or their survivors must pay to donate organs.

Fact: Organ donation costs nothing to the donors or their survivors. In fact, the costs are the responsibility of the organ procurement organization and the recipient.

Myth: Doctors will not try hard to save my life if they know I’m donating my organs.

Fact: Only after a person is declared legally dead does organ and tissue recovery begin. In addition, the pysician team responsible for saving your life is not the same physician team responsible for recovering organs.

Myth: If my survivors want to have an open-casket funeral for me, they can’t if my organs are donated.

Fact: Organs and tissue are removed using the same surgical procedures used on a live person. For example, the cuts made to remove the organs are sutured in the same way they are when your gallbladder or appendix is removed, so it is okay to have an open-casket funeral.

Myth: Donating my organs will delay my funeral.

Fact: Funeral arrangements are usually not delayed by organ donation. For organs to be useful, removal must occur quickly so funeral delays are rare. If extraordinary circumstances occur which may slightly delay a funeral, the family is asked for permission first.

Myth: I’m too old / unhealthy to donate. No one would want my organs.

Fact: Age is not a factor in determining if your organs are usable. Successful transplants result from donors of ages from newborn to the elderly. A person’s health condition at the time of death is what determines which organs and tissues can be donated. Different medical conditions affect different organs so an “unhealthy” person may still have healthy organs.

Myth: The rich and prominent patients get organs before everyone else.

Fact: Wealth or prominence in society has nothing to do with distribution of organs which is ensured by a computerized matching system. Blood type, length of time on the waiting list, severity of illness and other MEDICAL criteria are the only considerations.

Myth: Transplants are not usually successful.

Fact: With technology advancing every year, transplants are becoming increasingly successful and regarded as standard practice to treat more and more conditions. For example, the one-year survival rate of kidney transplant recipients is close to 97%!

Myth: Maybe I won’t really be dead when they sign my death certificate. It’ll be too late for me if they’ve taken my organs for transplantation. I might have otherwise recovered.

Fact: Only after a person is declared legally dead does organ and tissue recovery begin. Today’s technology provides more advanced methods and equipment for determining death.

Myth: My religion does not permit me to donate.

Fact: All of the mainstream organized religions approve of donation and consider it a charitable act. For example, in the Jewish faith, although removing organs breaks the law of Kavod Ha-met, the commandment of Pikuach Nefesh (saving a life) takes precedence, as ruled by the Committee or Jewish Law and Standards in 1995. The Rabbinical Council of America and Pope John Paul II have both approved of organ donation.

Myth: Minorities do not want to donate because they believe the distribution of organs discriminates by race.

Fact: The organs are distributed according to blood and tissue type, not race. In fact, it is more probable that a person could find a suitable donor among people of his or her own race.

Myth: The procedure to donate bone marrow is very painful.

Fact: Bone marrow donors do not feel pain because anesthesia is always used for this procedure.

Myth: Donated organs are sold with enormous profits for the doctors.

Fact: Buying or selling organs is a federal crime, punishable by jail time and fines.

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