There are many myths and misconceptions about donation out there that people believe to be fact. Below you will find some of our most commonly heard myths that people believe and list as their reason for not designating themselves as an organ, eye and tissue donor, as well as the facts to help dispel these myths.
Myth: If someone agrees to donate their organs and tissue, doctors or emergency room staff won't work as hard to save their life.
Reality: Only after all efforts have been exhausted in saving a patient’s life and death has been declared by the attending physician will organ and/or tissue recovery take place. The doctors working to save a patient’s life in an emergency room or a hospital's intensive care unit are separate from the medical team that would be involved in the transplant process.
Myth: I'm too old to be a donor. No one would want my organs. .
Reality: No patient is ever too old or too young to give the gift of life. The decision to use a patient’s organs and tissue is based on strict medical criteria, not age.
Myth: Organ and tissue donation is against many religions.
Reality: All major religions support organ and tissue donation as the ultimate act of charity. If someone has questions about their faith's views on donation, consult with their minister, pastor, rabbi or other religious leader.
Myth: Rich, famous and powerful people move to the front of the line when they need a transplant.
Reality: It may seem like they do because their stories are frequently in the new, but the matching of organs and recipients is coordinated through the United Network of Organ Sharing and is based strictly on medical criteria to ensure the organ will go to the person who needs it the most. Celebrity status or wealth is never a factor.
Myth: Donor families are charged for donating their loved one's organs and tissue.
Reality: There is no cost to the donor or their family for organ or tissue donation.
Myth: If someone has a history of medical illness, no one would want their organs or tissue.
Reality: At the time of death, a patient’s medical history will be reviewed to see if they are a suitable donor. Even people with diabetes and heart disease are able to be a possible organ and tissue donor.
Myth: People have been known to “wake up” from brain death.
Fact: People sometimes confuse brain death with coma. Brain death is not a coma. Coma is a state of unconsciousness where a person cannot be aroused. A person may recover or “wake up” from a coma as well as a brain injury. However, brain death is the permanent loss of all functions of the brain, including the brain stem. It occurs in patients who have suffered a severe, irreversible injury to the brain and entire brain stem. As a result of the injury, and despite all medical efforts, the brain swells and obstructs its own blood supply. Without blood flow, all brain tissue dies within a short period of time. Mechanical devices may maintain body functions, such as heartbeat and respiration, for a few hours or days but not permanently. Brain death is a clinical and legal determination of death. A physician confirms brain death using a strict neurological exam.