Many myths exist regarding organ and tissue donation. These are largely due to certain values people hold, religious beliefs or fears about what you “hear on the street” or see in local and social media.

Donor Alliance issued a survey to driver license office staff in November of 2010, gauging the main barriers to why people say “no” to registering to donate. Through this research we were able to identify the top five reasons why people do not say “yes” and designate themselves as organ and tissue donors.

“I just haven’t thought about it”

Research shows that many people do not donate because they “just haven’t gotten around to it.” What if everyone did think about the impact they could have on one or more lives?

“I always thought my family would decide.”

It’s normal for people to think this is a “family” decision, and many leave it up to family members. However, we’ve found having these conversations early and letting your family know your wishes to be a donor are critical to alleviating the burden of making the decision on your behalf during a time of great grief and loss.

“I have diabetes. I didn’t realize I could still donate.”

Unless you have had active cancer in the past year, it is likely you can still be a donor of some kind. Many recipients of organs have even been donors. So don’t worry about it, just say “yes.”*

“I’ve been too busy to sign up.”

In this day and age, making end of life decisions may not be top of mind. That’s why Donor Alliance works hard to put this important message in front of the community. Think about it, talk about it and take action to designate your decision.

“I didn’t think I could donate at my age.”

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 deemed able to be a donor or not.

Click here to download our Poster of Myths or here to download our Myths and Facts brochure.

Other myths

M: There are certain things that can keep me from being an organ donor such as age, illness or physical defects.

F: Each person’s medical condition is evaluated at the time of death to determine what organs and tissues are viable for donation. Even people living with chronic diseases or those who have a history of cancer are encouraged to join the donor registry.

M: If doctors know I’m registered to be an organ or tissue donor, they won’t work as hard to save my life.

F: 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. In fact, doctors and nurses involved in a person’s care before death are not typically involved in the recovery or transplantation of donated corneas, organs or tissues.

M: If you are rich or a celebrity, you can move up the waiting list more quickly.

F: Severity of illness, time spent waiting, blood type and match potential are the factors that determine your place on the waiting list. A patient’s income, race and social status are never taken into account in the allocation process.

M: After donating an organ or tissue, a closed casket funeral is the only option.

F: Donor Alliance treats each donor with the utmost respect and dignity, allowing a donor’s body to be viewed in an open casket funeral.

M: My family will be charged for donating my organs.

F: Costs associated with recovering and processing 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.

*There are other factors that can rule you out, but that will be determined by a medical professional at the time of your death.