Ninety-five percent of Americans are in favor of being an organ or tissue donor, according to Donate Life America, a national nonprofit dedicated to bringing awareness to organ and tissue donation to save lives.
But only 58 percent are registered as an organ donor.
About 8,000 people die each year waiting for organs, the group says.
April is National Donate Life Month to encourage Americans to register as organ and tissue donors, and celebrate those who have saved lives with donation.
There are a lot of myths surrounding organ donation that may keep people from taking that step between supporting donation and registering as a donor themselves. Let’s clear up some of those myths.
Myth #1: If I’m an organ donor, doctors won’t try to save me.
Fact: When you are admitted to a hospital because of illness or injuries, your doctors are working to save your life. Donation doesn’t become a possibility until all lifesaving methods have failed.
Myth #2: I’m too old to be a donor.
Fact: There’s no age cutoff to be a donor. The oldest donor in the United States was 93, according to the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration.
Myth #3: I have a medical condition, so I can’t be a donor.
Fact: Anyone can register to be a donor. There are very few conditions that prevent a person from being a donor. Even if you have an illness, you may be able to donate tissues or organs.
Myth #4: Organ donation is against my religion.
Fact: Organ donation is consistent with the beliefs of most major religions. If you’re unsure of your faith’s position on donation, consult your clergy member.
Myth #5: My family will have to pay for donation.
Fact: There is no cost to donors or their families for organ or tissue donation.
Myth #6: An open-casket funeral isn’t an option for donors.
Fact: Throughout the entire process, the body is treated with care, dignity and respect. An open casket funeral is usually possible for organ and tissue donors.
Myth #7: I’m under age 18 and too young to make this decision.
Fact: That is true in a legal sense, but parents or legal guardians can authorize donor registration. You also can express your wishes to your family, and they can give consent, knowing it is what’s wanted. Children are also in need of organs and typically need smaller organs that adults can provide.
Dr. Nadezda (Nadia) Hall is an internal medicine physician and primary care providers in Lake Geneva.