Busting Organ Donation Myths | Health Focus SA
More than 100,000 people are waiting for a life-saving transplant. Many Americans seek to fill this gap by registering their wish to donate organs when they register or renew their driver’s license, or when they present themselves for other opportunities. Fake news, however, poses a challenge. As a result, some potential donors back off.
Jennifer Milton is Chief Administrator of the University Health Transplant Institute and National President of Donate Life America. She says every donor can save lives, so it’s important to set the record straight. Milton dispelled some of the common myths about organ donation in a conversation with HealthFocus SA.
More than 100,000 people are waiting for a life-saving transplant. What is the main reason people don’t sign up to become organ donors?
Milton: The primary way Americans register to donate organs is when they receive or renew their driver’s license. Renewal only happens about once every four years in Texas, so it doesn’t often give you a chance to say “yes” to the donation.
This is why transplant organizations try to reach potential donors by other means. Texas recently began allowing you to register as a donor when you obtain a hunting or fishing license. Since 2015, you can also register as a donor when you activate the health app on your iPhone. Remarkably, more than 5,000 people a day register their wishes in this way.
Myth #1: If I register to donate my organs, emergency medical teams will make less effort to save my life.
Milton: When you arrive at the hospital, doctor’s office or emergency room, every effort will be made to save your life. Only after your life cannot be saved will someone even check if you are a registered organ donor or start this conversation with your family.
Myth #2: The rich and famous go to the top of the list when they need a donor organ.
Milton: The way the waitlist works is that the patient is placed on the waitlist and includes their blood type, height, and weight. These are factors that are important for how an organ is matched to an individual.
Your income or celebrity status is not on the national waitlist, and there is only one waitlist. All the inhabitants of the country who are on a waiting list are registered on only one site.
Myth #3: You can’t have an open casket funeral if you’ve been an organ donor.
Milton: People who have been cornea donors, tissue donors and organ donors, their families can still have an open casket funeral and visitation. The process of recovering donated organs, eyes and tissues is done in a surgical and dignified manner and does not preclude viewing.
Myth #4: I can’t get pregnant and have a child if I’ve donated an organ.
Milton: We have many living donors who donated kidneys or part of their liver to save someone’s life, and they managed to have children after the donation. There is a short period during which a living donor immediately recovers from living donation during which we do not encourage them to become pregnant, but there are no ramifications or prohibitions on having a child after living donation. .
Myth #5: Living organ donors must be family members.
Milton: You don’t have to be a family member to be a living donor. You don’t even have to have the same blood type anymore. We are really now, thank God, looking for a healthy and capable person to be an organ donor. From there, if we find that they don’t match the proper blood type, we line them up with another pair that might have the same incompatibilities, and we can do a pair swap.
Myth #6: Many religions forbid organ donation.
Milton: All major religions in the United States support organ donation. None oppose it.
Myth #7: Only young, healthy people can be donors.
Milton: To become an organ, eye or tissue donor, there is no upper age limit. This decision is made when someone dies based on their medical condition. For living donation, we will allow anyone of any age to be tested, but in general for living donation, most of our living donors are under 70 and over 18.
Learn more about the University Institute of Health Transplantation
Register to donate or become a living donor. Learn more on our website.