5 Stubborn Myths About Organ Donation

Cartoon by Randall Munroe.

Cartoon by Randall Munroe.

Organ donation gives life to someone who may otherwise not have a chance. Becoming an organ donor is easy, yet there are a number of people who shy away from electing to do so.

In fact, while 90% of United States adults have heard of organ donation and support it, only 45% are registered as organ donors.

There are a lot of stubborn but completely untrue myths about organ donation. These are the top five:

1. My Family Will Have to Pay Extra if I Donate

The costs of organ donation will not be the responsibility of your family. It’s easy to assume that if a medical procedure occurs, there will be a cost. But harvesting organs does not fall under your medical bill, and your family member will not have to pay for it.

2. Registering Means the Hospital Staff Won’t Work Hard to Save My Life

Hospital staff will not consider your organs for donation until after you are deceased. Hospital staff work arduously to ensure their patients survive whatever acute conditions they’re experiencing. No organs will be harvested — or considered for harvesting — until after the patient is declared legally deceased.

3. Nobody Wants My Organs Because I’m Too Old or Too Sick

There is no cutoff age for becoming an organ donor, so don’t eliminate yourself as a potential donor. Organs are evaluated based on medical criteria, which determine whether or not they are viable.

Also, being sick does not disqualify you as an organ donor. A limited number of medical conditions prevent people from donating organs. Only qualified medical professionals can determine whether or not organs are suitable for transplantation. It’s possible to help save a life, even if you are sick or in poor health.

4. My Religion Does Not Allow Organ Donation

This seems like a plausible argument, but it is a myth. All major religions in the United States support organ, eye and tissue donation. There are certain nuances based on your specific religious beliefs. Checking with your spiritual leaders about any of these parameters can help you donate your organs in a way that is consistent with your religious beliefs.

5. I Can’t Have an Open Casket Funeral if I’m a Donor

This is another prevalent myth. You can still have an open casket funeral if you donate your organs. Specific surgical techniques are used and all incisions are closed. This allows anyone who donates and wishes to have an open casket funeral to do so.

Registering Is an Easy Process

Becoming an organ donor in the state of Washington is easy. Donors can register in three ways: in person, online or by mail. You can register once you are 15 ½, but parents can revoke this donation until you turn 18. The easiest time to register is when you obtain or renew your driver’s license. Once your register, transplantable organs include heart, bone, lungs, liver, kidneys, pancreas, small intestine, skin, heart valves, connective tissue, veins, eyes, and corneas. Registering means you can help save a life!

There are many myths about organ donation. Understanding the reality of some of these myths can help increase the number of donors. In the end, donating organs is about preserving life for someone who need a second chance.