According to CORE (Center for Organ Recovery and Education), the following are common myths regarding organ and tissue donation:
MYTH: If I am in an accident and medical personnel know that I’m a registered donor, they won’t try to save my life.
TRUTH: The number one priority is to save every life. Paramedics, nurses and doctors will do everything possible to save your life. CORE is only notified after all life-saving efforts have failed.
MYTH: There is no difference between being brain dead and being in a coma.
TRUTH: Brain death is the medical, legal and moral determination of death. To verify brain death, a series of tests are performed over a period of time and more than one diagnosis is required before the patient’s family is presented with the opportunity to donate. There is no recovery from brain death.
MYTH: My religion does not support donation.
TRUTH: All major religions consider donation to be an individual decision or support it as the final act of love and generosity toward others.
MYTH: The rich and famous receive preferential treatment on the transplant waiting list.
TRUTH: Financial and celebrity status do not determine who receives a transplant. A national computer network, maintained by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), matches organs according to height, weight and blood type, followed by medical urgency and then time accrued on the waiting list. Age, race, gender, religious affiliation or financial status are not factors determining who receives a transplant.
MYTH: I am too old to register to become an organ donor.
TRUTH: There is no age limit for organ donation. Every potential donor is evaluated on a case-by-case basis at the time of their death to determine which organs and tissues are suitable for donation.
MYTH: My organs aren’t of any value because of my medical illnesses.
TRUTH: Few illnesses or conditions prevent someone from being a donor. At the time of death, CORE reviews medical and social histories to determine suitability. Although someone may not be able to donate blood, it does not always prevent the individual from donating organs and tissues.
MYTH: Organs go to people who didn’t take care of theirs.
TRUTH: Organs go to people who were born with or developed diseases that have caused organ failure. Less than 5% of people awaiting transplant have damaged their organ through substance abuse and they must achieve and sustain sobriety before they can be listed for transplant.
MYTH: My family will have to pay for costs related to my donation.
TRUTH: Donors and their families are not responsible for any costs related to donation. All costs are incurred by the organ procurement organization.
MYTH: Organs are bought and sold on the black market.
TRUTH: In alliance with the National Organ Transplant Act, the buying and selling of organs and tissue is illegal. Additionally, due to the complexity of organ transplantation, necessary involvement from highly trained medical professionals, the process of matching donors with recipients, the need for modern medical facilities, and the support required for transplantation, it would be impossible for organs to be bought or sold on the black market.
MYTH: The recipient will learn my identity.
TRUTH: Information about an organ donor is only released to the recipient if the family of the donor requests or agrees to it. Otherwise, a patient’s privacy is maintained for both donor families and recipients.