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The Truth About Organ Donation: Debunking the Myths

Updated on April 21, 2015

Organ Donation Facts

Being an organ donor is a very personal decision. For some, it's an immediate signing of their organ donor card without hesitation; for others, it may be a feeling of uncertainty. Being an organ donor may be one of the biggest decisions you ever make.

The thought of death itself is a frightening subject for many. With donation, a piece of you will live on through someone else. You will give the ultimate gift. The gift of life.



I am a strong believer in organ donation. I've watched a family member await a life saving donation and I've been the patient.

I was lucky to receive both of my kidneys from living related donors. My older brother received his kidney from an amazing family who made the decision to donate their sons organs.

Sometimes we (as a whole) forget to stop and smell the roses. Being brought back from the brink of death changes you. You are finally able to live again and appreciate the beauty surrounding you. Waking up knowing life can only get better, gives you a new lease on life.

Unfortunately, there are many myths surrounding organ donation which may hinder ones decision to donate.

Photo Credit: donatelife.net

Important Statistics - These numbers change on a daily basis

Organ Donor Awareness
Organ Donor Awareness

Image: TinyCherub


112,706 are currently waiting for the gift of life, including children.


23,747 transplants were performed in 2011.


90,564 people are awaiting a blood cleansing kidney.


16,067 people are waiting for a new liver.


3,113 people are waiting to hear the beat of their new heart.


1,677 are waiting to take a breath of fresh air with new lungs.


18 people die each day while waiting for the gift of life.



Being an Organ Donor Means

You have the power to save up to 8 lives with your organs alone.

emergency doctor
emergency doctor

If I'm an organ donor, the hospital staff will allow me to die without trying to save my life.

Myth




Fact

Doctors and nurses will focus their attention on saving your life not someone else's. Your doctor will be trained in the area of your illness or trauma. They will work diligently to assure everything possible has been done to save your life.

Hospital staff members do not have access the donor registry which means they won't know your status.

Procurement happens only after all life saving efforts have been exhausted and brain death has been declared.

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Surgery
Surgery

My body will be destroyed during organ removal.

Myth




Fact

Donated organs are surgically removed with precision and care. Donating will not change the appearance of your body.

Should you have an open casket, no one will see visible signs of organ or tissue donation. If bone was donated, a rod is placed where bone once was. Skin donation is replaced with a thin layer of skin from the back.

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Thank You Letter
Thank You Letter

The recipient's family will be given my identity and contact my loved ones.

Myth




Fact

Your information will never be released without consent.

The recipient may write a letter to your family but they will not have access to their names or addresses. Instead the letter is forwarded from the transplant center. It's up to the family to accept or decline the letter. Communication is carefully screened by the organ procurement organization.

Should your family accept the letter, they are not obligated to respond.

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Piggy Bank
Piggy Bank

My family will have to pay for removal surgeries.

Myth




Fact

Your family will not be charged for donating your organs.

All costs associated with the removal of donated organs is the responsibility of the transplant recipient.

Your family will still be responsible for any treatment cost before your life ended.

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Talk to your Family About Being an Organ Donor

After you've signed your organ donor card, let your family know of your wishes. They will have to sign a consent form in order to donate.

I'm too old to be a donor.

Myth




Fact

There is no age limit on who can donate their organs.

Organs have been transplanted from donors in their 80's. The decision to use your organs is based on meticulous medical criteria and exams, not your age.

It's best to let the doctors decide whether your organs and tissues are suitable for transplantation once you've passed away.


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Donation

Have a Heart
Have a Heart

Have you registered to be a donor?

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Thoughts on Being an Organ Donor

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    • netangel profile image
      Author

      Melissa 4 years ago from Florida

      @Mobley5: Thank you :)

    • netangel profile image
      Author

      Melissa 4 years ago from Florida

      @Doc_Holliday: It's not easy to go through but I do believe it makes you a better person. I hope she is doing well!

    • profile image

      Doc_Holliday 4 years ago

      My daughter-in-law has received the gift of two separate kidney donations so I can relate to what you have been through.

    • profile image

      Mobley5 4 years ago

      Really important that awareness is raised around organ donation. I hope that your health goes from strength to strength and that lots of people receive your important message.

    • netangel profile image
      Author

      Melissa 4 years ago from Florida

      @anonymous: Thanks, I appreciate your comments. :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I've heard people state these very reasons. This is a helpful lens, and although saddened to hear of your illness, I wish you continued health.

    • netangel profile image
      Author

      Melissa 4 years ago from Florida

      @GardenerDon: Good to hear! Thank you!

    • GardenerDon profile image

      Gardener Don 4 years ago

      You reminded me to take a look & see if I'd signed the donor part on my new license - I hadn't. Nice reminder - thanks.

    • netangel profile image
      Author

      Melissa 4 years ago from Florida

      @esesa209: What a great gift from you to your cousin! Thank you for supporting organ donation.

    • netangel profile image
      Author

      Melissa 4 years ago from Florida

      @esesa209: What a great gift from you to your cousin! Thank you for supporting organ donation.

    • profile image

      esesa209 4 years ago

      I am an organ donor, 12 years ago I gave my cousin. It's a decision I've never regretted. When I die, I know my organs will go to the people waiting. I did really enjoy reading this.

    • netangel profile image
      Author

      Melissa 4 years ago from Florida

      @anonymous: Thank you :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      @netangel: I like this.

    • peninsula profile image

      peninsula 4 years ago

      Great article! It's sad that a lot of people believe these myths deterring them from helping others.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I'm impressed and happy to of read this. Thank u very much.

    • netangel profile image
      Author

      Melissa 4 years ago from Florida

      @EvilZombieMonkey: Thank you :)

    • profile image

      EvilZombieMonkey 4 years ago

      Inspirational story. Thanks for writing this.

    • netangel profile image
      Author

      Melissa 4 years ago from Florida

      @anonymous: Thank you very much for your visits. I really appreciate you taking the time to share your story. :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Beautiful way with words. I commented on your other organ donor story just minutes ago. I have been an organ donor for many years now and I am happy to see such a wonderful story written to help others in need. On behalf of my baby brother, Michael, who passed away at age 11 due to heart failure, I say thank you. God bless you.

    • netangel profile image
      Author

      Melissa 4 years ago from Florida

      @LouisaDembul: I do hope they help people understand organ donation a little better. :)

    • netangel profile image
      Author

      Melissa 4 years ago from Florida

      @pilothennessy: Thank you!

    • LouisaDembul profile image

      LouisaDembul 4 years ago

      Good that you dealt with some of the myths around organ donor.

    • profile image

      pilothennessy 4 years ago

      Great lens!

    • netangel profile image
      Author

      Melissa 4 years ago from Florida

      @peninsula: Thank you! I hope more people will be open to the idea of being an organ donor :)

    • netangel profile image
      Author

      Melissa 4 years ago from Florida

      @anonymous: Thanks!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Very nice article. I learned a lot from what you have written. I will pass this on to my friends.