Organ Donation and Busting Those Scary Myths
Guess what? It has never been easier or safer to help save a life! Thanks to advances in transplant surgery, more and more people can benefit from the gift of a donated organ. There’s just one catch—they need those of us with healthy organs to sign up as organ donors. Whether you’re curious about the organ donation process or you’re ready to take action, we’re here to break it all down for you.
Organ donation is the process of surgically removing an organ from one person (the donor) and placing it inside another person (the recipient). It becomes necessary when the recipient’s organ fails due to disease or becomes too damaged to function.
Not every organ can be transplanted, but quite a few can! Right now, these are the most common types of organ transplants:
Traditionally, signing up to be an organ donor means that, in the event of your untimely death, you agree to pass on your organs to recipients in need. Just a single organ donor can save up to eight lives — as well as improve the lives of over 100 more by donating tissue.
In some cases, you can actually donate while still going on to lead a long, healthy life. “Living organ donation” is when a person gives a non-vital organ or part of an organ to someone in need. Typically, this involves a kidney or part of a liver, but it can also include a portion of a lung or intestine.
Because there is such a shortage of available organs for those in need, living donors are making a huge difference. They not only give hope to those most in need, they also help patients bypass lengthy wait lists and increase the pool of available donor organs. This can potentially help save countless lives.
If organ donation can help so many people, why aren’t more of us organ donors? In most cases, it comes down to misinformation. There are a lot of myths out there about organ, so let’s try to separate fact from fiction.
Myth: Doctors don’t try as hard to save the lives of registered organ donors.
Fact: A doctor’s first priority is always to save the life of their patient. Donation isn’t considered unless a patient has already passed away or their end of life care planning has started. A patient’s doctor often isn’t even involved with the transplant if it occurs.
Myth: A person has to be deceased in order to donate.
Fact: One of our most valued resources is a volunteer living donor. Whether it be a spare kidney or part of a liver, living donors are giving patients a new shot at life.
Myth: My age or health condition disqualifies me from donating.
Fact: Luckily, few diseases and conditions prevent people from donating their organs, and there is no age limit. People with chronic diseases, including those like high blood pressure, heart disease or cancer may be eligible to donate.
Myth: My family will be charged if I donate my organs.
Fact: Families of organ donors are never charged.
Myth: Organ donors cannot have open casket funerals.
Fact: The bodies of organ donors are indistinguishable from those who do not donate organs, and open casket funerals are still an option.
Why does this all matter? Because right now, there are more people who need an organ than there are available donors. Currently, over 114,000 people in the United States are waiting for an organ that could save their life. With a simple sign up, you could transform a life.
The liver is an extraordinary organ; its ability to regenerate makes living liver transplants possible. But in a country where 15 percent of people who need a liver transplant will die waiting for one, living liver transplants still only make up 5-7 percent of transplants. Dr. Emond, head of transplantation and pioneer in living liver surgery, urges a culture shift. Read the full story here »
25 Years After Heart and Double Lung Transplant—Sean Recounts His Surgery During the Blizzard of ‘93
A congenital heart condition didn’t stand in the way of Sean and his thirst for life and devotion to his family. Read the full story here »
Living donor transplantation has saved countless lives, but traditionally meant finding a compatible donor amongst a person’s close friends and family, which isn’t always possible. Read the full story here »
Diabetic since age 16, Brian Seaman longed to be a carefree kid. But when he passed out at work, dizzy and disoriented from low blood sugar, reality caught up with him. Taking insulin every day and monitoring his blood sugar had to be his new normal. Read the full story here »