Organ Donation Information

April is Donate Life Month and a good time to dispel some myths, share some facts and explain the organ donation process. For example, one organ donor can save up to 8 lives through his or her gift. 2016, as with every year previous, was a record-setting year with over 33,000 transplants in the US. Unfortunately, the wait list set a record as well, with nearly 120,000 people waiting to receive a transplant. Here’s some good information to know from and the US Department of Health & Human Services.

If you have a medical condition, you are still eligible. Anyone, regardless of health history can sign up to be a donor.  The transplant team at the time of a person’s passing, decides whether an individual’s condition makes donations possible.  With rare exceptions, organs and tissues can be donated, even from patients with cancer, blood diseases or infections.

There is no age limit to be an organ donor.  As noted above, the health and conditions of the donor’s organs are the determining factor.

Rich & famous people don’t get to cut to the “front of the line.” A national database and computer program uses a variety of factors to determine how donors and recipients are matched, such as blood type, time spent on the wait list, geographic locations and state of health of the recipient candidate. Ethnicity, financial status and fame are never factors.

There isn’t a financial cost for donating organs.  That’s an urban myth, that individuals or their estates need to pay a processing fee of some sort. Costs for donations are paid for by the recipient, usually through insurance, Medicaid or Medicare.  It’s also against the law to sell organs on the black market — that’s another misnomer.

The website has more facts and myths about organ donation.  Next week, we’ll talk more about how the actual organ donation registration process takes place.