Organ Donation Myths and Facts

Research shows that the main reason some people are reluctant to register as donors is that they simply don’t have accurate information. Unfortunately, myths about donation continue to circulate, resulting in an uniformed decision to not register as a donor. Below are some of the most common myths, along with the facts. Share them with your friends and family so that they can also learn the truth about organ donation.

Myth: If emergency room doctors know you're an organ donor, they won't work as hard to save you.
Fact: If you are sick or injured and admitted to the hospital, the number one priority is to save your life. Organ donation can only be considered after brain death has been declared by a physician. Also, your treating physician is not the doctor who would perform the organ recovery.

Myth: The “rich and famous” receive priority on the organ waiting list.
Fact: When you are on the transplant waiting list for a donor organ, what really counts is the severity of your illness, time spent waiting, blood type, and other important medical information.

Myth: Your family members can block your decision to become an organ or tissue donor, even if you are in the donor registry.
Fact: In Arkansas, your family cannot revoke your decision to register as a donor. However, it's important to talk to your family about your decision to donate so they are aware of your wishes and will feel comfortable honoring them.

Myth: Only hearts, livers, and kidneys can be transplanted.
Fact: Needed organs include the heart, kidneys, pancreas, lungs, liver and intestines. Tissue that can be donated include the eyes, skin, bone, heart valves and tendons.

Myth: No one wants my organs; I have too many medical conditions.
Fact: At the time of death, the appropriate medical professionals will review your medical and social histories to determine whether or not you can be a donor. With recent advances in transplantation, many more people than ever before can be donors.

Myth: I’m too old to be a donor.
Fact: People of all ages and medical histories should consider themselves potential donors. Your medical condition at the time of death will determine what organs and tissue can be donated.

Myth: Organ donation is expensive.
Fact: There is no cost to the donor's family or estate for organ and tissue donation. However, funeral costs remain the responsibility of the family.

Myth: Organ donation disfigures the body and it’s not possible to have an open-casket funeral.
Fact: Donated organs are removed surgically, in a routine operation similar to gallbladder or appendix removal. Donation does not change the appearance of the body for the funeral service.

Myth: My religion doesn’t allow organ donation.
Fact: All major organized religions approve of organ and tissue donation and consider it an act of charity.

Myth: I’m afraid of being drugged an having my organs removed.
Fact: This tale has been widely circulated over the Internet. There is absolutely no evidence of such activity ever occurring in the U.S. While the tale may sound credible, it has no basis in the reality of organ transplantation. Also it is illegal to buy or sell organs in the U.S.