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National Donate Life Month
Facts About Organ Donation
Who can be a donor?
People of all ages and medical histories should consider themselves potential donors. Your medical condition at the time of death will determine what organs and tissue can be donated.
Does my religion support organ, eye and tissue donation?
All major religions support donation as a final act of compassion and generosity.
Is there a cost to be an organ, eye and tissue donor?
There is no cost to the donor’s family or estate for donation. The donor family pays only for medical expenses before death and costs associated with funeral arrangements.
Does donation affect funeral plans?
An open casket funeral is possible for organ, eye and tissue donors. Through the entire donation process the body is treated with care and respect. Funeral arrangements can continue as planned following donation.
Does registering as a donor change my patient care?
Your life always comes first. Doctor’s work hard to save every patient’s life, but sometimes there is a complete and irreversible loss of brain function. The patient is declared clinically and legally dead. Only then is donation an option.
Does my social and/or financial status play any part in whether or not I will receive an organ if I ever need one?
No. A national system matches available organs from the donor with people on the waiting list based on blood type, body size, how sick they are, donor distance, tissue type and time on the list. Race, income, gender, celebrity and social status are never considered.
Why is it important for people of every community to donate?
Although donation and transplantation can take place successfully between individuals from different racial or ethnic groups, transplant success is often better when organs are matched between people of the same racial or ethnic background.
People of African American/Black, Asian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian/Alaska Native and multiracial descent currently make up nearly 58% of individuals on the national organ transplant waiting list. These communities are in great need of more organ and tissue donors.
The 10 Most Common Myths About Organ Donation
Myth 1: You can't be an organ donor if you are very young or very old.
Age won't keep you from becoming a donor.
If you are under 18 years old, consider that:
You're never too old to decide to become a donor. Your organs and tissues will be evaluated at the time of death to determine their suitability for donation.
Myth 2: Doctors don't work with the same urgency to save your life if they know you're an organ donor.
Many people are concerned that if they sign up to be an organ donor, they won't get the same level of care should they end up in a life or death situation. However, this is not true.
Your doctor is obligated to have one singular aim: to save your life.
Myth 3: If you are a registered donor, a doctor might declare you dead before it's appropriate.
This is a common myth that scares many people out of registering to donate. However, the opposite is actually true.
Organ donors are given more tests to determine official death than those patients who haven't agreed to organ donation.
Myth 4: Most religions don't condone organ donation.
Most major religions allow organ donation. A few of the religions that support the practice are:
If you are unsure of whether organ donation is consistent with your faith, you may wish to speak with a religious leader for clarification.
Myth 5: If you donate organs or tissues, you can't have an open-casket funeral.
Organ and tissue donation does not keep you from having an open-casket funeral, if that's your preference. Because donors' bodies are clothed for burial, you won't see signs of the donation.
Care is also taken to ensure that:
Myth 6: If you're not in great health, you shouldn't sign up to be a donor.
You might be surprised to learn that most health conditions won't disqualify you from donating your organs and tissues. While you may not be able to donate certain organs, other organs and/or tissues may be perfectly fine.
Qualified medical professionals will assess your organs at the time of death to determine their suitability for donation.
Myth 7: Your family will be charged when your organs and tissues are donated.
The family of an organ donor is only ever charged for the medical procedures performed in the attempt to save the donor's life.
Costs associated with post-mortem procedures associated with organ donation are not passed down to the donor's family.
Myth 8: If you are rich or famous, you'll be given priority on the waiting list for an organ.
Money and celebrity have no bearing on who gets an organ first. Factors considered are:
Myth 9: Doctors will take all of your organs, even if you only want to donate one.
You can specify which organs you are willing to donate. Only the organ(s) you identify will be donated.
Myth 10: Organs are sold on the black market.
There are many urban legends involving frightening tales of organs being stolen and sold for profit. The process of donation is so complex and medically involved that this is not actually viable.
A transplant necessitates all of the following: