Understanding Donation

Organ and tissue donation is one of the greatest gifts a person can give. Knowing that their loved one has left a lasting legacy of hope and healing can provide comfort and solace to donor families. For transplant recipients and patients on the transplant waiting list the gift of donation offers a second chance at life; a chance to move forward and fulfill that legacy left behind by their gracious donor.

Currently, there are more than 114,000 people in the United States on the transplant waiting list, including nearly 2,400 of our Northwest neighbors, and sadly 20 of those people die every day. Talking to your loved ones about donation and knowing the facts is the most influential way to spread the word about the beneficial impact of organ, eye and tissue donation.

Learn the Facts. Bust the Myths.

Myth: I could not be a donor due to age or a medical condition

Fact: Anyone can register their choice to be a donor. No matter your age or health, some of your organs or tissues may be perfectly suitable for transplant. In order for a patient to be eligible for organ donation, they do need to be on ventilated support at the time of their death, and it must occur in a hospital. Upon referral by hospital staff, a recovery organization will evaluate each person individually to determine whether donation is a possibility. Tissue and cornea donation may still be an option if a death occurs outside of a hospital.

Myth:  My organs could be sold on the black market

Fact:  According to the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act of 1968, human organs, eyes or tissue cannot be bought or sold in the U.S. Violators are subject to fines and imprisonment. All organ, eye and tissue recovery agencies are strictly regulated by the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations.

Myth:  Medical professionals won’t try to save my life

Fact:  Hospital and emergency personnel are only concerned with saving your life. They do not have access to the confidential donor registry database to even check for donor registration, nor do they make any determination as to whether someone is able to donate. LifeCenter Northwest’s medical team will assess for donation suitability only after all life-saving measures and treatments have been given and death has been declared.

Myth: It’s against my religion

Fact:  Most major religions support donation as a humanitarian act of giving. Transplantation is consistent with the life-preserving traditions of these faiths. Click here for information on specific religious views on donation.

Myth: My race or ethnicity doesn’t really matter for donation

Fact: Organ and tissues transplantation can exceed racial boundaries; however transplant success rates increase when organs are matched between members of similar backgrounds. People’s blood type, tissue marker, and size are often correlated to their race and ethnicity.  As such, quite often, people in need of a transplant will be a match to a donor with a similar background. Currently, ethnic minorities are in desperate need of more organ, eye, and tissue donors as they represent over 58% of the national organ transplant waiting list, but make up only 33% of actual donors. Read more on minority donors here.

Myth: Donation will cost my family a lot of money

Fact:  There is no cost to the donor’s family for organ, eye, and tissue donation. All costs related to donation are paid by the donation agency. Expenses related to saving the individual’s life and funeral expenses remain the responsibility of the donor’s family. Organ and tissue recipients do not incur the cost for anything related to transplantation.

Myth: Even if I’m registered, my family can override my decision

Fact:  Being a registered donor means you have given legal authorization for donation and transplantation. No one can override your registration and donation choice. LifeCenter Northwest works closely with donor families to support them through the donation process and to honor the gift of life that is being given. It is important for people to talk to their families about their donation choice in advance as it can be helpful to your family to know your wishes about being a donor.