Currently, there are over 121,000 people waiting for a life-saving transplant,
3,800 of those people are Marylanders. On average, Marylanders are twelve
times more likely to need an organ transplant than to become a deceased
organ donor; and every 10 minutes a new name is added to the national
organ transplant waiting list. On average, 22 people die from the lack
of available organs for transplant.
While 98% of Americans say that they support organ and tissue donation,
only 30% know the essential steps to becoming a donor.
Becoming an organ donor is easy. By simply saying “yes” to
donation at the MVA or registering online at
www.donatelifemaryland.org, you can give hope to the thousands waiting for a life-saving transplant.
There are a lot of myths surrounding the topic of organ and tissue donation.
So if you find yourself hesitating to register as a donor, consider the
following myths vs. realities about organ and tissue donation:
Myth: If someone agrees to donate their organs and tissue, doctors or emergency
room staff won’t work as hard to save their life.
Reality: Organ and/or tissue recovery take place ONLY after all efforts have been
exhausted in saving a patient’s life and death has been declared
by the attending physician. The doctors working to save a patient’s
life in an emergency room or a hospital’s intensive care unit are
completely separate from the medical team that would be involved in the
Myth: I’m too old to be a donor. No one would want my organs.
Reality: No patient is ever too old or too young to give the gift of life. The
decision to use a patient’s organs and tissue is based on strict
medical criteria, not age. Additionally, registering as a donor is a great
way to show support for this life-saving cause, whether you are ultimately
able to give the gift or not.
Myth: Many religions are against organ and tissue donation.
Reality: All major religions support organ and tissue donation as the ultimate
act of charity. If someone has questions about their faith’s views
on donation, they should consult with their minister, pastor, rabbi, or
other religious leader.
Myth: Rich, famous, and powerful people move to the front of the line when they
need a transplant.
Reality: It may seem like they do because their stories are frequently in the news,
but the matching of organs and recipients is coordinated anonymously through
the United Network of Organ Sharing, which is based strictly on medical
criteria to ensure the organ will go to the person who needs it the most.
Celebrity status or wealth is never a factor.
Myth: Donor families are charged for donating their loved one’s organs
Reality: There is absolutely no cost to the donor or their family for organ or
Myth: If someone has a history of medical illness, no one would want their organs
Reality: At the time of death, a patient’s medical history will be reviewed
to see if they are a suitable donor. Even people with diabetes, heart
disease, or cancer are able to be a possible organ and tissue donor. Additionally,
registering as a donor is a great way to show support for this life-saving
cause, whether you are ultimately able to give the gift or not.
Myth: People have been known to “wake up” from brain death.
Reality: People sometimes confuse brain death with coma. Brain death is not a coma.
Coma is a state of unconsciousness where a person cannot be awakened.
A person may recover or “wake up” from a coma, as well as
a brain injury. However, brain death is the permanent loss of all functions
of the brain, including the brain stem. It occurs in patients who have
suffered a severe, irreversible injury to the brain and entire brain stem.
As a result of the injury, and despite all medical efforts, the brain
swells and obstructs its own blood supply. Without blood flow, all brain
tissue dies within a short period of time. Mechanical devices may maintain
body functions, such as heartbeat and respiration, for a few hours or
days, but not permanently. A physician confirms brain death using a strict
neurological exam. Brain death is a clinical and legal determination of death.
Don’t let common myths about organ and tissue donation stop you from
registering as an organ and tissue donor. Visit
www.donatelifemaryland.org to register as a donor. You have the power to save lives!