You Have the Power to Donate Life: Myths & Facts About Organ and Tissue Donation

Don’t let myths and rumors keep you from saving lives. Learn the facts.

Myth: Doctors will not try to save my life if they know I want to be a donor.

Fact: The medical staff trying to save lives is completely separate from the transplant team. Donation takes place and transplant surgeons are called in only after all efforts to save a life have been exhausted and death is imminent or has been declared.

Myth: People can recover from brain death.

Fact: People can recover from comas, but not brain death. Coma and brain death are not the same. Brain death is final.

Myth: Minorities should refuse to donate because organ distribution discriminates by race.

Fact: Organs are matched by factors, including blood and tissue typing, which can vary by race. Patients are more likely to find matches among donors of their same race or ethnicity.

Myth: The rich and famous on the U.S. waiting list for organs get preferential treatment.

Fact: The computerized matching system does not select recipients based on fame or wealth. Organs are matched by blood and tissue typing, organ size, medical urgency, waiting time, and geographic location.

Myth: I am too old to donate organs and tissues.

Fact: People of all ages may be organ and tissue donors. Physical condition, not age, is important. Please sign a donor card; physicians will decide whether your organs and tissues can be transplanted.

Myth: My family will be charged for donating my organs.

Fact: Donation costs are not the responsibility of the donor’s family or estate.

Myth: Donation will disfigure my body.

Fact: Organs and tissues are removed in procedures similar to surgery, and all incisions are closed at the conclusion of the surgery. An open casket funeral is possible after donation.

Myth: Organs are sold, with enormous profits going to the medical community.

Fact: Federal law prohibits buying and selling organs in the U.S. Violators are punishable by prison sentences and fines.

Myth: Marrow donation is painful.

Fact: Marrow donors do not feel pain when the marrow is removed because anesthesia is used. Soreness and/or stiffness may be felt for a week or so post-donation.