Fact and Fiction

Separating Fact from Fiction

Clearing the air on deceased organ donation

There is good inside all of us and registering as a donor is one of the most selfless decisions someone can make for the good of all. In today's digital age, it is difficult to differentiate between fact and fiction. Here are the most frequent topics we hear from the community.

Religion

“My religion does not allow organ and tissue donation.”

Organ, eye and tissue donation saves and heals thousands of lives every year and is a generous act supported by all major religions in the United States. We encourage you to read the information below and talk to your leaders if you have any specific questions about your faith’s views on organ and tissue donation. Find more information here

AMISH
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The Amish will consent to transplantation if they believe it is for the well-being of the transplant recipient. John Hostetler, world renowned authority on Amish religion and professor of anthropology at Temple University in Philadelphia, says in his book, Amish Society, “The Amish believe that since God created the human body, it is God who heals. However, nothing in the Amish understanding of the Bible forbids them from using modern medical services, including surgery, hospitalization, dental work, anesthesia, blood transfusions or immunization.”Source: Hostetler, John A. Amish society. Baltimore: JHU Press, 1993. Print.

ASSEMBLY OF GOD
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The decision to donate is left up to the individual. Donation is highly supported by the denomination.

BAPTIST
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Though Baptists generally believe that organ and tissue donation and transplantation are ultimately matters of personal conscience, the nation’s largest protestant denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, adopted a resolution in 1988 encouraging physicians to request organ donation in appropriate circumstances and to “…encourage voluntarism regarding organ donations in the spirit of stewardship, compassion for the needs of others and alleviating suffering.” Other Baptist groups have supported organ and tissue donation as an act of charity and leave the decision to donate up to the individual. Source: Southern Baptist Convention. Resolution on Human Organ Donation. Texas, 1988. http://www.sbc.net/resolutions/791

BRETHREN
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According to Pastor Mike Smith, there is a consensus among the National Fellowship of Grace Brethren that organ and tissue donation is a charitable act so long as it does not impede the life or hasten the death of the donor or does not come from an unborn child. The Church of the Brethren’s Annual Conference in 1993 developed a resolution on organ and tissue donation supporting and encouraging donation. They wrote that, “We have the opportunity to help others out of love for Christ, through the donation of organs and tissues.”Source: Church of Brethren Annual Conference. Organ and Tissue Donation 1993 Annual Conference Resolution. 1993. To read the full resolution, you can go to http://www.brethren.org/ac/statements/1993organtissuedonation.html

BUDDHISM
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Buddhists believe that organ and tissue donation is a matter of individual conscience and place high value on acts of compassion. Reverend Gyomay Masao Kubose, president and founder of the Buddhist Temple of Chicago says, “We honor those people who donate their bodies and organs to the advancement of medical science and to saving lives.” The importance of letting loved ones know your wishes is stressed.

CATHOLICISM
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Catholics view organ and tissue donation as an act of charity and love. Transplants are morally and ethically acceptable to the Vatican. According to Father Leroy Wickowski, Director of the Office of Health Affairs of the Archdiocese of Chicago, “We encourage donation as an act of charity. It is something good that can result from tragedy and a way for families to find comfort by helping others.” In addition, Pope John Paul II has stated, “The Catholic church would promote the fact that there is a need for organ donors and that Christians should accept this as a ‘challenge to their generosity and fraternal love’ so long as ethical principles are followed.”Source: Pope John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae, number 86. To read the full Evangelium Vitae, please go to http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/es/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_25031995_evangelium-vitae.html

CHRISTIAN CHURCH (DISCIPLES OF CHRIST)
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The Christian church encourages organ and tissue donation, stating that we were created for God’s glory and for sharing God’s love. A 1985 resolution, adopted by the General Assembly, encourages “…members of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to enroll as organ donors and prayerfully support those who have received an organ transplant.Source: General Assembly of Christian Church. Resolution #8548 Concerning Organ Transplants. Des Moines, 1985.

CHRISTIAN SCIENCE
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The Church of Christ Scientist does not have a specific position regarding organ donation. According to the First Church of Christ Scientist in Boston, Christian Scientists normally rely on spiritual instead of medical means of healing. They are free, however, to choose whatever form of medical treatment they desire – including a transplant. The question of organ and tissue donation is an individual decision.

EPISCOPAL
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The Episcopal Church passed a resolution in 1982 that recognizes the life-giving benefits of organ, blood and tissue donation. All Christians are encouraged to become organ, blood and tissue donors “…as part of their ministry to others in the name of Christ, who gave His life that we may have life in its fullness.”Source: General Convention, Journal of the General Convention of…The Episcopal Church, New Orleans, 1982.

EVANGELICAL COVENANT CHURCH
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The Evangelical Covenant Church passed a resolution at the Annual Meeting in 1982 encouraging members to sign and carry organ donor cards. The resolution also recommended “that it becomes a policy with our pastors, teachers, and counselors to encourage awareness of organ donation in all our congregations.”Source: Evangelical Covenant Church. Commission on Christian Action; Organ Donor Resolution. 1982.

GREEK ORTHODOX
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According to Reverend Dr. Milton Efthimiou, Director of the Department of Church and Society for the Greek Orthodox Church of North and South America, “The Greek Orthodox Church is not opposed to organ donation as long as the organs and tissue in questions are used to better human life, i.e., for transplantation or for research that will lead to improvements in the treatment and prevention of disease.”

HINDUISM
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According to the Hindu Temple Society of North America, Hindus are not prohibited by religious law from donating their organs. This act is an individual’s decision. Dr. Hargovind Laxmishanker Trivedi in his book Transplantation Proceedings stated that, “Hindu mythology has stories in which the parts of the human body are used for the benefit of other humans and society. There is nothing in the Hindu religion indicating that parts of humans, dead or alive, cannot be used to alleviate the suffering of other humans.”

INDEPENDENT CONSERVATIVE EVANGELICAL
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Generally, Evangelicals have no opposition to organ and tissue donation. Each church is autonomous and leaves the decision to donate up to the individual.

ISLAM
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The Fourth Conference of the Islamic Fiqh Council determined that transplantation offers “clear positive results” if practiced “…to achieve the aims of sharee’ah which tries to achieve all that is good and in the best interests of individuals and societies and promotes cooperation, compassion and selflessness.” Provided that “shar’i guidelines and controls that protect human dignity” are met, “It is permissible to transplant an organ from a dead person to a living person whose life or basic essential functions depend on that organ, subject to the condition that permission be given by the deceased before his death, or by his heirs after his death….” Regarding living donation, it is permissible to transplant organs such as a kidney and or a lung “in order to keep the beneficiary alive or to keep some essential or basic function of his body working.”Source: Resolutions of Islamic Fiqh Council of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Fourth Conference, Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 18-23 Safar 1408 AH/6-11 February 1988 CE

JEHOVAH’S WITNESS
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Judaism sanctions and encourages organ, eye, and tissue donation in order to save lives. Rabbi Elliott N. Dorff wrote that saving a life through organ donation supersedes the rules concerning treatment of a dead body. Transplantation does not desecrate a body or show lack of respect for the dead, and any delay in burial to facilitate organ donation is respectful of the decedent. Organ donation saves lives and honors the deceased. The Conservative Movement’s Committee on Jewish Laws and Standards has stated that organ donations after death represent not only an act of kindness, but are also a “commanded obligation” which saves human lives.Source: The Rabbinal Assembly. On Educating Conservative Jews Regarding Organ Donations, 1996.

LUTHERAN
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The Lutheran Church passed a resolution in 1984 stating that donation contributes to the well-being of humanity and can be “an expression of sacrificial love for a neighbor in need.” They call on “members to consider donating and to make any necessary family legal arrangements, including the use of a signed donor card.”Source: The Lutheran Church. Organ Donation: A Resolution of the Lutheran Church in America. 1984.

MENNONITE
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Mennonites have no formal position on donation, but are not opposed to it. They believe the decision to donate is up to the individual and/or his or her family.

MORAVIAN
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The Moravian Church has made no statement addressing organ and tissue donation or transplantation. Robert E. Sawyer, President, Provincial Elders Conference, Moravian Church of America, Southern Province, states, “There is nothing in our doctrine or policy that would prevent a Moravian pastor from assisting a family in making a decision to donate or not to donate an organ.” It is, therefore, a matter of individual choice.

MORMON (CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS)
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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes that the decision to donate is an individual one made in conjunction with family, medical personnel, and prayer. They do not oppose donation. he Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints recognizes that “the donation of organs and tissues is a selfless act that often results in great benefit …The decision to will or donate one’s own body organs or tissue for medical purposes, or the decision to authorize the transplant of organs or tissue from a deceased family member, is made by the individual or the deceased member’s family.”Source: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Handbook 2: Administering the Church. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2010. Print.

PRESBYTERIAN
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The Presbyterians denominations encourage and endorse donation. It is an individual’s right to make decisions regarding his or her own body. The resolution by one Presbyterian denomination, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), “recognizes the life-giving benefits of organ and tissue donation, and thereby encourages all Christians to become organ and tissue donors as a part of their ministry to others …”Source: Minutes of the 195th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) Louisville: Office of the General Assembly, 1983.

SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION
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In 1988, the Southern Baptist Convention resolved that because “resurrection does not depend on body wholeness” and that “organ transplant technology has transformed many lives from certain death to vibrant productivity,” the SBC encourages “voluntarism regarding organ donations in the spirit of stewardship, compassion for the needs of others, and alleviating suffering.”Source: Southern Baptist Convention. Resolution on Human Organ Donations. San Antonio. 1988.

THE CHURCH OF NAZARENE
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The Church of the Nazarene encourages its members who do not object personally to support donor/recipient anatomical organs through living wills and trusts. Further, they appeal for a morally and ethically fair distribution of organs to those qualified to receive them.Source: Church of the Nazarene. Manual of the Church of Nazarene 1997-2001, paragraph 904.2 Kansas: Nazarene Publish House, 1998. Print.

UNITED METHODIST
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The United Methodist Church recognizes the life-giving benefits of organ and tissue donation and thereby encourages all Christians to become organ and tissue donors,” reports a church policy statement. In a 2000 resolution, the church also “encourages its congregations to join in the interfaith celebration of National Donor Sabbath … another way that United Methodists can help save lives.”Source: United Methodist Church (U.S.). The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church. Nashville: United Methodist Pub. House, 2000. Print.

Personal Health

"My medical condition doesn't allow me to register as a donor."

“I’m not healthy enough. I don’t think I can donate.”
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No matter what type of illness or medical condition you have, it may still be possible for you to be a donor and give the gift of life. Many organ recipients have even been donors themselves. Let the medical professionals determine if you are a candidate for donation at the time of your death. So don’t rule yourself out and register online or at the driver license offer !

“I didn’t think I could donate at my age.”
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People rule themselves out as potential donors, due to health or age restrictions. But each person is evaluated at the time of their death by a medical professional and determined to be an eligible donor or not. We have had donors from birth to over 105 years of age! Download our Myths & Facts brochure to share with your friends and family.

“If doctors know I’m registered to be an organ or tissue donor, they won’t work as hard to save my life.”
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The first priority of a medical professional is to save lives when sick or injured people come to the hospital. Organ and tissue donation isn’t even considered or discussed until after death is declared or a family has decided to take their loved one off of ventilated support. In fact, doctors and nurses involved in a person’s care before death are not involved in the recovery or transplantation of donated corneas, organs or tissues.

Family Issues

“Will my family be charged for donating my organs?”
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Costs associated with recovering and packaging organs and tissues for transplant are never passed on to the donor family. The family may be expected to pay for medical expenses incurred before death is declared and for expenses involving funeral arrangements.

“Can my family override my decision to be a donor?”
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Many people wonder if their family can override their decision to be an organ, eye and tissue donor after death. In short, the answer is no. As an adult (18 years or older), your decision to be a donor is a first-person authorized advanced directive. Just like a will, this decision is legally binding and cannot be overridden by your family; which is why it’s so important to discuss donation with your loved ones. This decision relieves your family of the burden of making yet another decision during a very difficult time and ensures your decision is honored. It is important to discuss your lifesaving decision with your family.

“If I become an organ or tissue donor, then I will have to have a closed casket funeral.”
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Donor Alliance treats each heroic donor with the utmost respect and dignity, allowing a donor’s body to be viewed in an open casket funeral.

Other Misperceptions

“Does my sexual orientation affect my donation status?”
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Gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people can donate organs. Sexual orientation or gender identity does NOT prevent an individual from registering to be a deceased organ donor. Health and Human Services (HHS) measures donor compatibility based on pre-existing medical conditions at the time of donation.

“Does my race or ethnicity matter or affect my donation status?”
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No. The need for lifesaving organ transplants affects all communities regardless of race or ethnicity, . However, when it comes to race and transplants, there is an even greater need for organ transplants among diverse communities and a need in our region and nationally for more people of color to sign up as organ, eye and tissue donors. Although organ transplant candidates are not matched based on race or ethnicity and people of different ethnicities often match one another, transplant matches made within ethnic groups can be even more compatible and successful. That is why it is so important that more people in all communities register as organ, eye and tissue donors. The more people who register their decision to be donors, more lives can be saved and healed!

“What is the difference between living and deceased organ donation?”
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Deceased donation is choosing to donate your organs, eyes and tissues to patients in need at the time of your death. This is what you commit to doing when you say ‘yes’ to being a donor at the driver license office.
Living donation is choosing to donate an organ or part of an organ to another individual while you are alive. Both living and deceased donation can be lifesaving. However, some confusion exists about the difference between the two. According to independent research, about 25 percent of respondents in Colorado and Wyoming mistakenly believe that the heart or hearts on a state driver license represents a person’s willingness to donate while living, with most of those residents believing that the heart represents willingness to donate via both deceased and living donation. In fact, the heart on a state driver license means the owner of the license has registered to donate their organs, eyes and tissues at the time of their death, only. Living donation is separate and unrelated to the state donor registry

“Can undocumented immigrants get transplants? I heard somebody couldn’t get a transplant because of their status.”
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Yes, undocumented immigrants can receive organ transplants. A transplant center’s criteria for all prospective candidates is the same regardless of U.S. citizenship or immigration status. Documentation of U.S. citizenship is not required at the four Colorado transplant centers. All prospective candidates are evaluated against a rigorous set of standards including various medical and psychosocial considerations, and a patient’s ability to maintain post-transplant medical care, which is essential to the success of organ transplants. Having meticulous transplant listing criteria helps ensure each precious gift of life will be maximized in its new home.

“Can I sell my organs in the United States?”
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NO! In short, the answer is NO. In fact, it’s illegal to sell organs and tissues for transplants in the United States. The National Organ Transplant Act, which was passed in 1984, makes it illegal to sell or buy human organs and tissues in the United States. Selling organs and tissues is a crime and violators are subject to fines and imprisonment.

“Why do I have to register?”
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The United States operates under an opt-in, first-person consent system. This means individuals must actively sign up on the donor registry and, upon doing so, no further authorization is required when the decision of the donor is legally documented. In Colorado, an individual opt-ins to be an organ, eye and tissue donor when he or she signs up as a donor at the driver license office or online. This means individuals must personally, actively sign up on the donor registry and, upon doing so, no further authorization is required when the decision of the donor is legally documented.

“By registering, am I sharing my information with the government?”.”
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Organ and tissue donation is a deeply personal and sacred decision. Not a single person involved in the organ and tissue donation process is involved in a governmental agency. Registering to become a donor when you renew your driver license at the DMV is simply due to the convenience of the renewal process. All information contained in the Donor Registry is strictly confidential and is only available to organ- and tissue-recovery organizations at or near the time of death.

“So who CANNOT be an organ or tissue donor?”
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Everyone can register to be an organ, eye, and tissue donor!