8 Biggest Myths About Organ Donation

Myth 1: I’m too Old or Unhealthy to Donate My Organs.

No matter your age or health, some of your organs or tissues may be perfectly suitable for transplant, and doctors evaluate each person individually. Don’t just assume your organs aren’t viable for transplant — that’s a decision best left to doctors.

Myth 2: It’ll Cost My Family A Lot of Money.

Unfortunately, organ transplants can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. But it’s the recipient, not the donor, that shoulders the cost of organ and tissue transplants.

Myth 3: I Might Not Even Be Dead Yet.

It’s a common fear about organ donation — that people may seem dead and have their organs donated, even though they’re technically still alive. But that’s simply not true. Doctors perform rigorous tests to make sure a patient has passed in all cases, and patients who are organ donors go through even more tests.

And, to be clear, brain death and being in a coma are not the same thing. For one, your can’t come back from brain death and you can come back from a coma. In brain death, other organs may continue to function for a period of time, but you’ve essentially died and will never recover. If you’re in a coma, you may be able to recover.

Myth 4: Doctors Won’t Try to Save Your Life.

If you have a little red heart on your driver’s license, will doctors not try as hard to save your life? Nope, not in the slightest. Doctors will do everything they can to keep a person alive, and these doctors are not even usually involved in the organ transplantation process at all.

Myth 5: I Couldn’t Have an Open-Casket Funeral.

Will donating organs require different funeral plans? Hardly. Open casket funerals are completely fine and common among organ donors. This includes skin and bone donations.

Myth 6: It’s Against My Religion.

Mormons, Muslims, Catholics, Buddhists… Nearly every major religion either encourages organ and tissue donation, or, at the very least, lets the decision fall on the individual member.

Myth 7: My Race or Ethnicity Doesn’t Matter.

People’s blood type, tissue marker, and size are often correlated to their race and ethnicity. As such, very often, people in need of a transplant will match with a donor of a similar background. For the most part, people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds donate their organs in equal proportions. However, many diseases that often lead to requiring transplants are found in higher numbers among certain racial and ethnic groups. For instance: over a third of all people waiting for a kidney transplant are African American, yet the United States is about 15% African American. So there’s a big discrepancy there, and thus the need for people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds to sign up to be donors is very imperative. You can find out more about race, ethnicity and organ donation here.

Myth 8: Having a Heart on my Driver’s License is Enough.

A designation on your state-issued I.D. card is usually enough, but it’s not always enough. You can double check your registration for accuracy, or register for the first time, by finding your state here. It’s also important to talk to your family about your wishes, and you can also consider including your wishes in your advance directives, will, and living will.