MYTH: A physician or EMT may not do everything possible to care for me in an emergency situation in order to take my organs for transplant.
FACT: Upon arrival at an accident scene or upon receiving you in the emergency room, all medical personnel immediately spring into action to try and save your life. Physicians involved in a patient's care by law have nothing to do with transplant programs. Death can be declared only by following strict medical and legal guidelines and usually with the input of more than one physician. The local organ procurement organization does not become involved until all lifesaving efforts have failed and death has occurred.
MYTH: Wealthy people and celebrities are moved to the top of the list ahead of “regular” patients.
FACT: The organ allocation and distribution system is blind to wealth or social status. The length of time it takes to receive a transplant is governed by many factors: blood type, patient size, time on the waiting list, severity of illness and other medical criteria. Factors such as ethnicity, gender, age, income or celebrity status are not considered when determining who receives an organ.
MYTH: My religion does not support organ donation.
FACT: No major organized religion in the world objects to organ donation (for specific views, click here
). In fact, donation is often encouraged as an act that exemplifies a basic religious principle - that the giving of life and alleviation of pain and suffering is the highest level of spiritual generosity and love one can offer.
MYTH: The donor family incurs cost for organ donation.
FACT: Families of donors are in no way responsible for costs relating to organ and tissue donation. Those costs are paid by the organ donor recovery program and later billed to the transplant center, which in turn bills the transplant recipient’s insurance company. Donor families pay only for medical costs up to the time of their loved one's death.
MYTH: Regular funeral services are not possible following organ donation because donation will mutilate the body.
FACT: Organ donation does not delay regular funeral or memorial services, and a normal viewing is possible. Organs and tissues are recovered using standard surgical procedures. The appearance of the donor is not altered, and after any tissues are recovered the body is fully reconstructed with prosthetics.
MYTH: I am too old to be a donor.
FACT: There is no age limit for donation. At the time of death, appropriate medical professionals will determine whether organs and tissues are useable for transplantation. Recovery for research, therapy, and whole body donation are possible options.
MYTH: I have a history of medical illness, so you would not want my organs or tissues.
FACT: At the time of death, appropriate medical professionals will review your medical and social history to determine whether or not you can be a donor. With recent advances in transplantation, more people than ever before can be donors.
MYTH: I don’t need to register to be a donor or tell my family that I want to be a donor, because I have it written in my will.
FACT: By the time your will is read, it will be too late to recover your organs. Registering to be a donor and telling your family about your decision is the best way to ensure your wishes are carried out. You may also designate donation in an advanced directive or in a health care power of attorney where you designate someone to make decisions if you are not able.
MYTH: Organs for transplant can be bought and sold on the black market.
FACT: Unlike some third world countries where an individual can sell one of his/her kidneys for transplant, the selling or buying of organs for transplant is illegal in the United States. There is no transplant physician or center in this country that will transplant an organ that was not recovered through the national waiting list system.
MYTH: Someone might take my organs before I am really dead.
FACT: Donation can only occur after there is an official declaration of death based on the laws in that jurisdiction.
MYTH: It doesn’t matter what I decide about donation, because my family will make the final decision.
FACT: The D.C. Code states that family permission is not required for donation, and your decision at DonateLifeDC.org will be honored. It is helpful to talk to your family about your donation decision so that they may assist in carrying out your wishes.
MYTH: I am donating my entire body to science so I will also be an organ and tissue donor.
FACT: A body that is donated for scientific research cannot be used for organ and tissue donation, except in the case of corneas.