Considering becoming an organ donor is not a five minute decision, but one that you should think about carefully, discussing it with your family and friends. Being an organ donor can make a huge difference – it can have a domino effect, saving or improving as many as 50 other lives. If you go ahead, it is important to do your research, however you will most likely stumble across lots of scare stories or false information. To help you reach a conclusion, we’ve taken apart popular myths to give it to you straight.
Myth 1: If I am an organ donor, will the doctors still fight to save my life?
Of course they will! Doctors are fully trained and completely focused on making you feel better and treating your condition, not lining your body parts up for the next patient. You will always be their priority, whether you are a donor or not.
Myth 2: Maybe I won’t be completely dead when they sign my death certificate
Don’t listen to horror film scare mongering. The organ donation process is incredibly vigorous and regulated, so you will be truly declared as dead before the next stage is taken.
Myth 3: Organ donation is against my religion
It is up to you to decide what your personal beliefs are on the subject of organ donation; however it is generally consistent with the beliefs of most major religious groups. This includes Roman Catholicism, Islam, most branches of Judaism and most Protestant faiths. If you want more spiritual guidance or advice about your religion’s stance, then speak to your clergy.
Myth 4: I’m under 18, that’s too young to make this decision, right?
Legally, yes you are too young. However your patients can authorise your decision for you, if you tell them that it is your wish to donate. Once you have their consent, you will be able to be an organ donor. Many children and youngsters also need to have life saving transplant operations for which organs are needed.
Myth 5: An open-casket funeral isn’t an option for people who have donated organs or tissues
If an open-casket funeral is what you want, then you should be able to have one, no matter if you are an organ donor or not. Since your body will be fully clothed for burial, there will be no visible signs of donation. Bone donation uses a rod to remove the bone, while with skin donation a very thin layer of skin from the back is removed (a bit like sunburn peel) so neither of these would show either.
Myth 6: I’m too old to donate
There is actually no cut off age for donating organs. The doctors judging whether an organ should be used or not will follow very strict medical criteria, but this doesn’t include the age of the donor.
Myth 7: I’m not in the best of health. Nobody would want my organs or tissues
Don’t discount yourself too soon. As previously mentioned, each organ has to tick all the boxes of the criteria before it can be used, so at your time of death, the doctors will decide what can and can’t be used. Some organs may not be able to be used, but others could be fine, so it really depends on individual cases. Very few medical conditions disqualify you from becoming an organ donor.
Myth 8: I’d like to donate one of my kidneys now, but I wouldn’t be allowed to do that unless one of my family members is in need
This is not the case – no matter who you want to help, you will be able to donate a kidney through certain transplant centres. While that used to be the case, it isn’t any longer. If you decide to become a living donor, you will undergo extensive questioning to ensure that you are aware of the risks. You will also undergo testing to determine if your kidneys are in good shape and whether you can live a healthy life with just one kidney.
Myth 9: Rich and famous people go to the top of the list when they need a donor organ
It doesn’t matter what your financial or political status is, there is no preferential treatment with regards to the allocation of organs. Celebrity figures may gain more publicity if they undergo a transplant, but they are not treated any differently to anyone else.