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Myths and Facts About Organ Donation

Recently a bill was started in the Colorado statehouse to have automobile drivers become possible organ donors unless they opt-out.  The bill was shelved due to "ethical" concerns.  This incident very much highlights the need for more information for those who have concerns about this bill.  So in an effort to enlighten, a list of myths and facts has been started about organ donation.




Myth 1:                                                      
If doctors in the hospital know I want to be a donor, they will not try to save my life.

 

 

Fact:

It is important to understand that the medical staff trying to save your life is completely separate from the transplant team. Transplant surgeons are called in for the donation process only after all efforts to save a life have been made and death is either imminent or has occurred.

 

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Myth 2:        
Some people can recover from brain death.

 

Fact:

No one can recover from brain death, but they can recover from some comas. Brain death and coma are not the same. Brain death is final and irreversible.

 

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Myth 3:         
Deciding who receives a donor organ discriminates by race. Therefore, ethnic minorities should refuse to donate.

 

Fact:

Organs are matched by such factors as blood and tissue typing. Potential recipients are actually more likely to receive a suitable organ when that organ is donated by someone of the same ethnicity or race.

 

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Myth 4:          
The rich and famous are given donated organs ahead of ordinary people.

 

Fact:

Organ recipients are not selected based on fame or wealth. The national computerized organ matching system matches donors and recipients only by blood and tissue typing, organ size, medical urgency, length of time on the waiting list, and geographic location.

 

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Myth 5          
Senior citizens are too old to donate.

 

Fact:

Organs and tissue can come from people of all ages, ranging from newborn babies to seniors. The most important factor is physical condition, not age.

 

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Myth 6:         
Families will be charged for donating a loved one's organs.

 

Fact:

The donor's family or estate is not responsible for the donation costs. Medicare and/or the recipient's insurance bear the cost.

 

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Myth 7          
My body will be disfigured if I donate.

 

Fact:

Donor organs and tissues are removed surgically, and the donor’s body is closed, as in any surgery. There are no outward signs of organ donation and open casket funerals are still possible.

 

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Myth 8
Organs are often sold, giving the medical community enormous profits.

 

Fact:

The buying and selling of organs is strictly prohibited by federal law in the U.S. Any violators are punished by heavy prison sentences and fines.

 

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Myth 9:

Increasing organ donations will increase black market activiity for organs.

 

Fact:

Black markets emerge when there is less of something and more restrictions.  Increasing donations would increase legal transplants and decrease restrictions , therefore making a black market less able to operate.

 

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Myth 10:

The poor and illiterate will be taken advantage in a opt-out program.  (An opt-out program is where drivers are organ donors unless they opt-out.)

 

Fact:

A good portion of those waiting for organs are poor and illiterate.  Also someone totally illiterate would have a hard time passing the written portion of the driving test.  And some say stating the disadvantaged are unable to understand an opt-out progam seriously underestimates them.

 

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Myth 11:          
My religion may prohibit organ donation.

 

Fact:

Virtually all mainstream religions support organ and tissue donations and view them as unselfish charitable acts. Those families who have donated believe they have followed high moral and ethical standards and have made a true Gift of Life.

 

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Myth 12:

There is a possibility of a person recovering after being declared dead and slated for organ donation.

 

Fact:

Although it's a popular topic in the tabloids, in reality, people don't start to wiggle their toes after they're declared dead. In fact, people who have agreed to organ donation are given more tests (at no charge to their families) to determine that they're truly dead than are those who haven't agreed to organ donation.

 

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Myth 13:

Living donors health will be hurt.

 

Fact:

In one famous study World War II veterans who had lost a kidney were followed.  It was found "Mortality was not increased in those who had lost a kidney" and "None of the 28 living veterans (average age, 64∫4years; average interval after kidney loss, 45∫1years) had serious kidney insufficiency".

 

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Myth 14

Kidney Transplant surgery is just too risky!

 

Fact:

There is some risk in any surgery.  It has been calculated the risk of dying from kidney donation is 3 occurances in 10,000 operations.  Compare that to the lifetime risk of dying in a car accident: 1 in 85! If a person is worried about risk, they might consider giving up driving first.

 

Thanks to Renal Support Network, the Mayo clinic, the Halachic Organ Donor Society, and Ihatedialysis.org for material in starting this list.  And thanks to Angie from Angie's KidneyKorner for help with this list and the suggestion it be started.