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Myths and Truths

There is a severe organ and tissue shortage in this country. Despite continuing efforts at public education, myths about donation persist. Following are the facts about donation.

MYTH: If I am in an accident and the hospital knows that I want to be an organ and tissue donor, the doctors will not try to save my life.

TRUTH:Organ and tissue recovery takes place only after all efforts to save your life have been exhausted and death has been legally declared. The medical team treating you is completely separate from the transplant team. If you are a registered donor, the registry will be checked only by the organ procurement organization (OPO) and only after death has been legally declared.  Hospitals do not have access to check the registry. The OPO notifies the transplant team following consent to donation.

MYTH: Donation will mutilate my body.

TRUTH: Donated organs and tissues are removed surgically, in a routine operation similar to open-heart surgery. Donation doesn’t prevent an open-casket funeral or viewing.

MYTH: I don’t need to tell my family that I want to be an organ and tissue donor because I have it written in my will.

TRUTH: By the time your will is read, it will be too late to recover your organs and tissues. Register to become an organ and tissue donor today at, and share your decision with your family.

MYTH: I am not the right age for organ or tissue donation.

TRUTH: Organs may be donated from newborns to about age 75. There is no age limit for tissue donation. At the time of your death, the appropriate medical professionals will determine whether your organs are usable.

MYTH: Only the heart, liver and kidneys can be transplanted.

TRUTH: Needed organs include the heart, kidneys, pancreas, lungs, liver and intestines. Tissues that can be donated include the eyes, skin, bone, heart valves and tendons.

MYTH: Donor families incur costs related to donation.

TRUTH: Donor families are never asked to pay for any expenses related to donation. The beauty of their lifesaving gift should never be blemished in such a way.