Minn. — More than 120,000 people are waiting for an organ
transplant nationwide. Mayo Clinic alone has more than 3,000
patients on its waiting list. Getting more people to register
as organ, eye and tissue donors is a major goal across the
U.S., yet myths influence that decision for many people,
Brooks Edwards, Mayo’s director of the William J. von Liebig
Center for Transplantation and Clinical Regeneration and a
transplant cardiologist, discusses some common myths about
I agree to donate my organs, the hospital staff won't work as
hard to save my life.
When you go to the hospital for treatment, doctors focus on
saving your life — not somebody else's. You'll be seen by a
doctor whose specialty most closely matches your particular
emergency, not by a doctor who performs transplants.
Organ donation is against my religion.
Organ donation is consistent with the beliefs of most major
religions. This includes 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.
open-casket funeral isn't an option for people who have
donated organs or tissues.
Organ and tissue donation doesn't interfere with having an
open-casket funeral. The donor's body is clothed for burial,
so there are no visible signs of organ or tissue donation.
I'm too old or too sick to donate. Nobody would want my organs
There's no defined cutoff age for donating organs. The
decision to use your organs is based on strict medical
criteria, not age. And very few medical conditions
automatically disqualify you from donating organs. Don't
disqualify yourself prematurely. Let the doctors decide at
your time of death whether your organs and tissues are
suitable for transplantation.
Rich and famous people go to the top of the list when they
need a donor organ.
The rich and famous aren't given priority when it comes to
allocating organs. It may seem that way because of the amount
of publicity generated when celebrities receive a transplant,
but they are treated no differently from anyone else. The
reality is that celebrity and financial status are not
considered in organ allocation.
should consider organ donation?
than 120,000 people are waiting for organ transplant in the
United States. Nearly 2,000 of those are children. Every 10
minutes another name is added to the national waiting list. An
average of 18 people die each day in the United States waiting
for transplants that can't take place because of the shortage
of donated organs.
donating your organs after you die, you can save or improve as
many as 50 lives. And many families say that knowing their
loved one helped save other lives helped them cope with their
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 whites to have
certain chronic conditions that affect the kidney, 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.
kidney, liver and bone marrow transplant, living donors can
help shorten the wait time for many patients. A living donor
can sometimes start a chain of transplants, called a paired
exchange, thereby saving not just one life, but several. For
every recipient who can get an organ from a living donor,
there is one fewer person on the waiting list, thereby giving
the remaining people on the list a better chance and more hope
of getting a transplant.
information about organ donation, visit