Sunday, August 9, 2009

FACT OR FICTION: Popular Organ Donation Myths

A recent report by American Medical News mentioned that people willing to become organ donors continues to low because of existing misconceptions.

Only 38% of licensed drivers have joined their states' organ donor registries, with many deterred by long-held misconceptions about how the transplant system works, according to poll results released in April.
The survey of 5,100 American adults, conducted on behalf of the organ-donation advocacy group Donate Life America, found that:

- 50% think that registering as organ donors means physicians will not try as hard to save their lives.
- 44% say there is a black market in the U.S. for organs or tissue.
- 26% believe that patients determined to be brain dead can recover from their injuries.
- 23% who are undecided about donation wrongly worry that age or health conditions would make them unacceptable donors.
So here were are to see if these so called myths are FACT or FICTION.

Myth #1:
If I am an organ donor, my doctor or the emergency room staff won't work as hard to save my life, because they can use my organs to save somebody else.
FICTION. The focus of the medical team will always be on you and saving your life in case of emergency. Organ donation is only considered after brain death is declared. And the doctors who will be handling you will be those who know your medical history or who are in the area of expertise most closely matching your needs.

Myth #2:
People who are rich and famous are given priority. They are placed ahead when comes to receiving an organ.
FICTION. Due to the recent liver transplant by Steve Jobs, there has been speculation that people with money and influence get ahead on the waiting list. This is not the case, the waiting list places priority in the severity of a person's illness and how well the organs that are available match those who are on the list.

In Steve Jobs' case, he was able to find out out that the waiting list for a liver was faster in Tennessee than in other states.

If you want to know how long the the average wait list times for each state click here, then choose the type of report you want to create.

Myth #3:
I'm younger than 18. I'm too young and am not able to make this decision.
FACT. Being below 18 makes it legally true that you are too young to make decisions. In the past, individuals aged below 18, even infants have been donors. All it requires is that parents and/or guardians make the decision for the minor.

Myth #4:
My religion is against organ donation.
FICTION. Most religions agree to organ donation and transplantation. If you are unsure about what your religion's stance is on organ donation, ask an elder within your faith who can clear the issue.

Related Posts :


  1. Many of the myths you have listed are in fact truths that have plenty of real world examples, available for verification through legitimate news sources. Rich and famous people jump the line all the time with the encouragement of the organ transplant industry. Mickey Mantle, Natalie Cole, Steve Jobs and others are the poster children for an industry that thinks if they just had a few more laws, can solve the cadaver organ shortage. They are completely tone deaf to their own conflicting message: become an organ donor so we can save someone with unlimited resources who can be on 53 waiting lists simultaneously.

    If you believe that organ donation is the ultimate gift, you have to agree that there are serious flaws in the way the system is operated. We feel it is a grave injustice to encourage people to donate their bodies for the benefit of others, but refuse to pay just compensation to the donor and their family. This is a $20 billion a year industry in the United States, built on the backs of real people who have suffered severe economic hardship, not to mention the loss of a loved one.

    We think that should a family make the supreme gift of love and life, the hospital and doctors have an obligation to make sure the last thing that happens is that the donor’s family is billed for any final medical expenses. We advocate a system in the United States that would allow for just compensation to organ donors. A whole body donation is worth at least $2 million to the organ procurement organizations, tissue banks, big pharma and transplant center hospitals.

    Any industry that is based on free raw materials is already on the slippery slope of moral issues.

    Check out for more information about the current state of the organ harvesting industry and your rights under the law.

  2. If is so against donation, why is there so much information on how to be a whole body donor? You either do believe, or you don't. You can't have it both ways.

    And yes, the myths really are myths. The only reason that they get propigated is from people like Mark who are twisting the truth for their own personal agenda. What you are trying to do is get paid for your gift, not save a life. The idea that a whole body donation is worth up to $2 million for organ donation organizations is also misleading as OPO's don't accept whole body donations. They return the body for the family to bury. Donors are not "free raw materials," they are our loved ones and should be treated with respect.

  3. Hi Mark, your comments are always welcome here.

    I'm a bit confused about the goal of your group, on one end you are against transplantation, thus the tag 'donottransplant', yet on the other end you are asking for compensation and are amenable to whole body donations.

    As mentioned by one of our readers, you seem to be cutting it both ways, taking which ever works in your favor.

  4. It is fair to say that Mark is not being truthful. Jobs, Mantle, Cole most certainly did NOT jump the line because of celebrity, fame or wealth. The fact that Mark will be untruthful on the most basic issues regarding donation is reason enough to doubt everything he says.