National Donate Life Month provides the opportunity to promote organ donation to those who haven’t found it in their hearts to sign up yet. It's important that potential donors have complete and trusted information about the organ donation process.
It can be hard to think about what's going to happen to your body after you die, but being an organ donor is a generous and worthwhile decision that can be made now. You can discuss your desire to be a donor with your family, so in their time of grief, they aren’t left debating your wishes.
Sadly, there are a number of myths that prevent people from becoming an organ donor. Have you said no to organ donation or delayed your decision to become a donor because of things you’ve heard people say about donation and transplant? Here are some fears we hear from patients, along with answers to common myths and concerns.
MYTH: As a recipient, I may develop personality traits or likes/dislikes of my donor through their organ donation.
FACT: While some recipients have claimed to notice personality changes or changes in their likes and dislikes post-transplant, there is no medical evidence to support that these changes are due to the donor organ. Some medications taken after a transplant may affect your taste buds which could affect your food preferences.
MYTH: You have to be related to a recipient in order to be a living donor.
FACT: Most living kidney donors are a family member or friend. A donor does not need to be related to the person who receives the kidney. Some people who want to be kidney donors do not have a certain person in mind to receive the kidney. This is called a non-directed donation.
Most living liver donors are a family member or friend. Mayo Clinic requires that living liver donors have a relationship with the person receiving part of their liver.
Whatever your reason is for considering living donation, it’s important to understand the process and take time to make your decision. Learn more in our Living Donor Toolkit.
MYTH: I can’t donate my kidney because my loved one isn’t on dialysis yet.
FACT: Patients who are nearing kidney failure and are not yet on dialysis can have a kidney transplant pre-emptively, before they have a need for dialysis. A transplanted kidney performs 100% of a kidney’s function. Dialysis only performs 10%. Additionally, kidney transplant recipients have significantly greater chance of survival compared to dialysis patients.
MYTH: Organ donation is against my religion.
FACT: Organ donation is consistent with the beliefs of most major religions. These religions include Roman Catholicism, Islam, most branches of Judaism and most Protestant faiths. If you're unsure of or uncomfortable with your faith's position on donation, ask a member of your clergy.
MYTH: If I agree to donate my organs, the hospital staff won't work as hard to save my life.
Fact: In the event of a medical emergency that results in trauma or a serious brain injury, doctors focus on saving your life — not somebody else's. You'll be seen by a doctor whose specialty most closely matches your particular condition. If life-saving measures are not successful, your family may be approached about the possibility of donating your organs.
MYTH: I'm too old to donate. Nobody would want my organs.
FACT: There's no defined cutoff age for donating organs. The decision to use your organs is based on strict medical criteria, not age.
So why should you consider organ donation? Now that you have the facts, you can see that being an organ donor can make a big difference, sometimes to many people. By donating your organs after you die, you can save or improve as many as 85 lives. By being a living donor, you can improve someone’s quality of life who may not be able to wait for a deceased donor organ.
It's especially important to consider becoming an organ donor if you belong to an ethnic minority. Minorities including African-Americans, Asians and Pacific Islanders, Native Americans, and Hispanics are more likely than Caucasians to have certain chronic conditions that affect the kidneys, heart, lung, pancreas and liver. Certain blood types are more prevalent in ethnic minority populations. Because matching blood type is usually necessary for transplants, the need for minority donor organs is especially high.
Liked by Rosemary, Volunteer Mentor
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