Although organ donation is a simple and kind way to save others’ lives, many people stay away from it because of inaccurate preconceptions. In fact, nearly 90% of Americans support organ donation but only 30% have signed up to be donors, according to Donate Life America. So what’s stopping people? Misconceptions about the process are preventing potential donors from signing up.
First, people are often afraid that if they become an organ donor doctors will not try as hard to save their life. This is false; the moment you are declared medically brain-dead, which is when your organs can be harvested, all lifesaving efforts stop.
Second, some worry that they may not receive the best medical care if it is known they are donors because their organs will be needed for another person. However, hospitals and doctors are required by law to treat all patients with the same level of care regardless of their status as organ donors.
Third, many people think that if they have a chronic illness or condition, they cannot be organ donors; but this too is false. Unless someone has an active infection, they can still be a donor.
Lastly, some people are simply uncomfortable with the idea of their organs being removed after death. While this is a personal decision, it is important to remember that organ donation is an incredible act of kindness and generosity.
By becoming an organ donor, you have the ability to save up to 8 lives. You can also give the gift of sight by donating your corneas and help improve the life of someone living with a disability by donating tissue.
Some think that a hospital staff might not work as hard to save someone’s life if that person has already agreed to become an organ donor. They believe this could lead to doctors signing a death certificate while the potential organ donor is still alive.
Some people are afraid that if they become organ or tissue donors, it will no longer be possible for them to have an open-casket funeral. Many feel that the decision is one that should not be made until they are at least eighteen years old, while others claim that recipients of organs wouldn’t want organs from elderly people or those with health conditions.
However, these are all myths. The reality is that organ donation saves lives. In the United States, there are over 120,000 people waiting for an organ transplant and every day, 22 people die because they didn’t get one in time.
Organ donation costs nothing to the donor or their family – all costs associated with harvesting organs are borne by the recipient. There are no religious objections to organ donation – all major religions support it.
You can’t be too old to donate organs – age is not a determining factor in most cases. People with health conditions can still be organ donors – even those with HIV/AIDS can donate through a process called directed donation.
You can have an open casket funeral whether you are an organ donor or not – the incisions made during organ/tissue retrieval are done so with great care and skill so that they can be easily covered by clothing.
Making the decision to become an organ donor is a personal one, but it is one that can save lives. If you are considering becoming an organ donor, talk to your family and friends about your decision to make sure they are supportive. Then, register as a donor with your state’s registry or sign up when you get your driver’s license.
Others believe that some people are able to receive organs before others who have been waiting on the transplant list for longer, simply because they are wealthy or famous. Although this is far from the truth, it prevents a large number of people from declaring themselves as organ donors. As a result, there is an average of eighteen deaths every day due to a lack of available organs for transplantation.
A common concern regarding organ donation is that the doctors will not try as hard to save the life of someone who is an organ donor. In actuality, organ donors are given the same level of care as non-donors. The only difference is that when a patient is declared brain dead, which means they have irreversible brain damage and are on life support, the hospital staff will contact the organ transplant organization.
Organ donation does not interfere with funerals either. If you donate your organs, you can still have an open casket funeral because the organs are removed surgically through small incisions (“Donation”).
By becoming an organ donor, you could save up to eight lives. You could also improve the lives of fifty people by becoming a tissue donor. Tissues that can be donated include corneas, skin, heart valves, and veins.
Mayo Clinic, a nonprofit medical care, research, and education organization governed by a thirty-three-member Board of Trustees in Arizona, Florida, Minnesota, Wisconsin,, helps those who are unsure about the decision to become an organ donor by providing truths that will make people feel comfortable about this life-changing action.
One of the main reasons people are weary of becoming donors is the fear that doctors will not work as hard to save their lives if they know the patient is an organ donor. According to Mayo Clinic, this is not true. “The first priority is always to save your life. Treatment for you will not be different whether or not you are an organ donor.” In other words, doctors have a Hippocratic Oath to do no harm, which supersedes any other considerations.
People also think that registering as an organ donor means that anyone who needs an organ can have one of theirs. In actuality, according to the website, “Most organs and tissues can be transplanted only into people with certain blood and tissue types.
The primary concern of any health professional at Mayo Clinic is saving the patient in front of them. In fact, a doctor who treats patients in emergencies will most likely have nothing to do with organ allocation if death occurs. Those who have agreed to organ donation undergo more and more strenuous tests to ensure their death as well. The process of donation hardly obstructs open-casket funerals either, since clothes will cover any marks made from organ or tissue donation.
The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) is the organization that manages the organ transplant system in the U.S. UNOS coordinates with transplant hospitals and has a computer system that tracks organ availability and distribution nationwide. Once potential donors are identified, the next step is to determine which organs and tissues can be transplanted.
After death, doctors evaluate whether the person’s organs and tissues are suitable for transplantation. The Mayo Clinic defines donation as “the process of giving an organ or tissue to an individual in need of a transplant.”