Debunking Myths About Organ Donation

At any given time, well over 100,000 people in the United States are waiting and hoping for an organ transplant, and most of the people fortunate enough to get the transplant they need receive this life-saving gift because someone who died took the time, at some point, to let their loved ones know their wishes about organ donation.

Many people actively choose not to be organ donors, which is certainly their right. However, this choice is often made because of some common myths about organ donation:

Myth: Emergency medical personnel don’t try as hard to save organ donors who are critically injured.

Truth: EMTs and emergency room personnel are devoted to preserving human life. Not only would this be completely immoral and unethical, it’s not even a factor in first responders’ thoughts while treating critically injured patients. It is not until it becomes apparent that a person’s life cannot be saved that these medical experts have time to consider whether you are an organ donor, and only at this point do they contact a transplant specialist.

Myth: Most religions disapprove of organ donation because the body is being desecrated or will not be “whole.”

Truth: In actuality, most major religions approve of organ donation because the preservation of human life typically trumps all other religious doctrines. Not sure if your particular faith endorses organ donation? Talk to your spiritual advisor and/or visit for the official positions of a long list of religious organizations.

Myth: Only young people in excellent health are eligible to donate organs and/or tissue.

Truth: There are many factors at play in transplant decisions. Transplant surgeons evaluate donors and their organs on a case-by-case basis, and they often accept organs and tissues from people of advanced age, donors with many different medical conditions, and people on a variety of medications. By choosing organ donation, you put the ultimate decision in the hands of highly trained transplant specialists who can make the right call about which, if any, of your organs, bones, or tissues to utilize for transplant. 

Are you an organ donor? ICE IDs (In Case of Emergency) are a great idea for just about everyone. For organ donors, ICE IDs not only enable first responders to contact your loved ones quickly, but they also help ensure that medical personnel are aware of your desire to donate your organs. There is a brief time window during which organs can be saved for use in transplants, which means that if you are fatally injured, those attending to you need to know whether you are a donor right away so that some good can come of a tragic situation. 

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