Don’t let myths delay your chance at saving a life

When people hear the words “organ donation” the first thing they think of are myths and misconceptions which they believe are true.  The fact is, there are more than 117,000 people waiting for a life saving organ transplant in the United States and more than 2,200 are waiting here in the state of Maryland. In 2012, the United States had 22,187 deceased donors (www.unos.org). Unfortunately, thousands of people on the transplant waiting list never get the call for a second chance at life.

It can be hard to think about what happens to your body after you die, let alone donating your organs, eyes and tissues. But  being an organ, eye and tissue donor is a selfless decision that can save lives and give  people on the transplant waiting list hope.

Understanding organ donation is the first step when making your decision to save a life. If you have delayed your decision to register because of myths and misconceptions, these facts to some of the common myths may clear up your concerns.

Myth: If I agree to donate my organs, the hospital staff won’t work as hard to save my life.

Fact: 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. The doctor in charge of your care has nothing to do with transplantation.

Myth: Organ donation is against my religion.

Fact: Organ donation is consistent with the beliefs of most religions. This includes Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam and most branches of Judaism. If you’re unsure of or uncomfortable with your faith’s position on donation, ask a member of your clergy. Another option is to check the federal Web site OrganDonor.gov, which provides religious views on organ donation and transplantation by denomination.

Myth: I’m not in the best of health. Nobody would want my organs or tissues.

Fact: Very few medical conditions automatically disqualify you from donating organs. The decision to use an organ is based on strict medical criteria. It may turn out that certain organs are not suitable for transplantation, but other organs and tissues may be fine. Don’t disqualify yourself prematurely. Only medical professionals at the time of your death can determine whether your organs are suitable for transplantation.

Myth: Donor families are charged for donating their loved one’s organs and tissue.

Fact: There is no cost to the donor or their family for organ or tissue donation.

Myth: Rich and famous people go to the top of the list when they need a donor organ.

Fact: 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. In fact, the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), the organization responsible for maintaining the national organ transplant network, subjects all celebrity transplants to an internal audit to make sure the organ allocation was appropriate.

It only takes a minute!

Now that you have the facts, being an organ donor can allow you to save up to nine lives, donating tissues can allow you to enhance up to 50 lives and donating corneas can restore sight for two people.  Always share your decision with your family. Don’t delay your decision any longer, becoming an organ donor is much easier than you think:

  • Register with the Maryland Donor Registry at www.donatelifemaryland.org.
  • Designate your choice when obtaining or renewing your license.
  • Contact The Living Legacy Foundation for other options.

For more information on the Living Legacy Foundation visit us at www.thellf.org.

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About Jennifer

Jennifer Gelman is the director of Communications for the Living Legacy Foundation of Maryland. She is responsible for creating and executing educational and awareness programs for LLF’s donor service area, along with overseeing the company’s volunteer program, and the relationship with Maryland’s Motor Vehicle Administration. With nearly ten years of experience in non-profit and cause-related marketing, on a national and local level, Jennifer is focused on raising awareness and creating an open dialogue about organ, eye and tissue donation throughout diverse communities the organization serves. Follow Jennifer on Twitter: http://twitter.com/jennifergelman
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