Most people have questions about what organ and tissue donation means and have fears about how it may affect them or their family in the future. The following factual information is intended to educate individuals about donation and clear up some of the most common misconceptions.
Myth: It would cost me money to donate.
Fact: Organ donation is completely FREE. Neither donors nor recipients are charged for the donation. The only charges involve the costs of transplantation for the recipient.
Myth: Donating organs is against my religion.
Fact: All major religions–including Protestant, Roman Catholic, Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism and others–fully support organ and tissue donation.
Myth: Donation is painful for the donor’s family.
Fact: Organ donation is often an immediate and lasting consolation. It is usually comforting to the family that even though their loved one has died, one or more persons can live on through their gift of life.
Myth: Doctors may let me die if they know I am an organ donor so that they can transplant my organs to others.
Fact: Doctors who treat patients in life and death situations have nothing to do with possible donation of their organs and tissues. Every effort is made to save that person’s life. Organ donation is not even considered until that person has died.
Myth: If I donate, the recipient or their family will know who I am and cause my family additional grief.
Fact: Information about the donor’s identity is only released to the recipient if the family that donated the organs requests that it be provided. Privacy is completely respected. Some people choose to meet the recipients whose lives were saved. Others choose not to ever know.
Myth: If I donate my organs, I cannot have a normal funeral and my family will never see my body again to say good-bye.
Fact: After someone dies, surgery to remove the organs occurs as if the person were alive. Careful attention to incisions and scars is made so that an open casket and funeral is still an option if that is the person’s choice. You can still receive a traditional burial or cremation.
Myth: Only wealthy or famous people receive transplants. I could never get one if I needed one.
Fact: Anyone who is eligible for a transplant can get one. The donor organs are matched to recipients based on blood and tissue type, geographic location and medical urgency. Some celebrities or wealthy people have to wait a long time for an organ that matches their needs and some “everyday people” get donor organs without a long wait. It simply depends on the number of people who are willing to donate their loved one’s organs after death. Unfortunately, however, the need is currently much greater than the supply.
Myth: I’m much too old to donate my organs. The issue doesn’t apply to me.
Fact: Anyone is eligible to be an organ donor. Leave it up to the doctors to decide after your death. Tissues and organs transplanted include corneas, heart, liver, kidneys, bone and cartilage, bone marrow, skin, pancreas, lung, and others. You can be a living donor of kidneys and bone marrow.
The most important part of being an organ donor is sharing your feelings about organ donation with your family. Share your life. Share your decision.