Myths & Truths

Have You Heard The Truth?

Myth 1

There aren't that many people waiting for a transplant anyway.

Truth 1

Over 6,000 people a day die waiting on a life saving transplant. Only two percent of the population can be organ donors, and only 1 percent say yes. We lose over 20,000 transplants a year because the deceased's family declined donation. There are over 90,000 people currently waiting for a life saving transplant.

Myth 2

I heard about this guy who went to a party and woke up the next morning in a bathtub fill of ice. His kidneys were stolen for sale on the black market.

Truth 2

There is no documented case of this ever happening. Period. First, it is illegal to buy and sell organs in the United States. Second, due to the complexity of transplantation, piracy is practically impossible. Matching donors with recipients, the need for highly skilled medical professionals to perform the surgery, and the need for modern medical facilities for transplantation, make it highly unlikely that this could be duplicated in secrecy.

Myth 3

Rich and famous people get moved to the top of the waiting list, while "regular" people have to wait a long time for a transplant.

Truth 3

The organ allocation and distribution system is blind to wealth or social status. The length of time it takes to receive a transplant is governed by many factors, including blood type, length of time on the waiting list, severity of illness and other medical criteria. Race, gender, age income or celebrity status are never considered when determining who receives an organ.

Myth 4

My religion does not approve of donation.

Truth 4

Most organized religions support donation, typically considering it a generous act that is the individual's choice.

Myth 5

If I'm in an accident and the hospital knows I want to be a donor, the doctors won't try to save my life.

Truth 5

The medical team treating you is separate from the organ transplant team. The Organ Procurement Organization is not notified until all life-saving efforts have failed and death has been determined. The OPO does not notify the transplant team until your family has consented donation.

Myth 6

I don't want my family to have to pay if I want to donate my organs.

Truth 6

A donor's family is not charged for donation. If a family believes they have been billed incorrectly, they should contact their local organ procurement organization immediately.

Myth 7

If I donate, I would worry that the recipient and/or the recipient's family would discover my identity and cause more grief for my family.

Truth 7

Information about the donor is released by the OPO to the recipients only if the family that donated requests that it be provided.

Myth 8

I have a history of medical illness. No one would want my organs or tissue.

Truth 8

At the time of death, the OPO will review medical and social histories to determine donor suitability on a case-by-case basis.

Myth 9

I am not the right age for donation.

Truth 9

Age limits for organ donation no longer exist; however, the general age limit for tissue donation is 70. Organs my be donated from someone as young as a newborn.

Myth 10

I heard that they take everything, even if they only want to donate my eyes.

Truth 10

You may specify which organs you want donated. Your wishes will be followed.

Myth 11

Organ and tissue donation means my body will be mutilated and badly treated.

Truth 11

Donated organs are removed surgically, in a routine operation similar to gallbladder or appendix removal. Donation does not disfigure the body or change the way it looks in a casket. Normal funeral arrangements are possible.