Article Content

MYTH: A patient with a history of chronic illness can't donate organs.


FACT: The patient's suitability as a donor is determined at the time of death. Very few medical conditions automatically disqualify a patient from donating organs. Clinicians from the donor program review the patient's medical and social histories with the donor's family, and determine if the donor is medically suitable.


MYTH: Some people are too old to be organ donors.


FACT: Age limits no longer exist for organ donation. Clinicians determine donor suitability on a case-by-case basis at the time of death. Organs have been successfully transplanted from donors in their 70s and 80s.


MYTH: Organs can easily be matched to patients of different racial and ethnic backgrounds.


FACT: Although patients in need of an organ transplant may match a donor from another racial or ethnic background, a transplant is more likely to succeed if the donor and patient are from the same racial or ethnic group.


MYTH: Some religions don't approve of organ donation.


FACT: All major organized religions support organ donation or leave it to individual choice.


MYTH: The donor's family pays for organ recovery.


FACT: All costs of organ donation are paid by the organ and tissue donor program. The donor's family or estate bears none of the expense.


MYTH: A patient without cardiopulmonary function can't donate organs or tissue.


FACT: Although organ donation from brain-dead patients is the most common and preferred donation method, controlled donation after cardiac death is an option for patients whose hearts have stopped beating and who have been declared dead according to traditional cardiopulmonary standards. Thanks to advances in tissue preservation techniques, viable organs can be retrieved from these patients.


Other tissue, such as skin, bone, veins, cartilage, heart valves, and corneas, may be donated even if cardiopulmonary function has ceased.


MYTH: If an adult hasn't made a decision about organ donation, only her spouse or adult child can legally consent to organ donation.


FACT: Under the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act adopted by all 50 states and the District of Columbia, family members can consent to organ donation for a deceased adult. These family members are, in order of priority, spouse, adult child, parent, adult sibling, grandparent, and legal guardian.




Donate Life America.


Gift of Life donor program.


Linde E. Speaking up for organ donors. Nursing. 2009;39(1):28-31.


Mayo Clinic.


President's Council on Bioethics. Controversies in the Determination of Death. December 2008.