17 Myths About Organ Donation

Most of us know that donating our organs is a beautiful and amazing gift to leave behind. But even still, there are so many inaccurate myths out there about the process.

Last week, we showed you a slew of our favorite heartwarming organ donation stories, all in celebration of National Donate Life month. In case that got you thinking about exactly what all organ donation really entails, we’ve rounded up some myths about the way it works to keep your facts straight.

  • If you agree to donate organs, the hospital staff won’t work as hard to save your life. As a patient in critical care, your life always comes first.
  • What if I’m not really dead and they rush to use my organs? People who have agreed to organ donation are given more tests (at no charge to their families) to determine that they’re truly dead than are those who haven’t agreed to organ donation.
  • Organ donation is against some religions. Organ donation is actually consistent with the beliefs of most major religions. This includes Roman Catholicism, Islam, most branches of Judaism and most Protestant faiths.
  • If I’m under 18, I’m too young to make this choice. In a legal sense, yes, this is true. But your parents can authorize this decision if you feel ready. Younger people’s organs are in just as much of demand.
  • An open-casket funeral isn’t an option for people who have donated organs or tissues. Organ and tissue donation doesn’t have to interfere with having an open-casket funeral. Since the donor’s body is clothed for burial, there are no visible signs of organ or tissue donation.
  • I’m too old to donate. Nobody would want my organs. There’s no defined cutoff age for donating organs. The decision to use your organs is based on strict medical criteria, not age. Let your doctors decide at your time of death whether your organs and tissues are suitable for transplantation.
  • I’m not in the best of health, so my organs are useless. Very few medical conditions automatically disqualify you from donating organs. The decision to use an organ is based on strict medical criteria. Again, don’t disqualify yourself prematurely.
  • I’d like to donate one of my kidneys now, but I wouldn’t be allowed to do that unless one of my family members is in need. While that used to be the case, it isn’t any longer. You can now donate a kidney through certain transplant centers to anyone. If you decide to become a living donor, you will undergo extensive questioning to ensure that you are aware of the risks and that your decision to donate isn’t based on financial gain. You will also undergo testing to determine if your kidneys are in good shape and whether you can live a healthy life with just one kidney.
  • Rich and famous people go to the top of the list when they need a donor organ. No one is given priority based on wealth or fame when it comes to allocating organs.
  • My family will be charged if I donate my organs. The organ donor’s family is never charged for donating. Costs for organ removal go to the transplant recipient.
  • I can only sign up to donate when getting/renewing my driver’s license, learner’s permit or photo ID. You can sign up to be an organ donor at any time ó and it only takes 30 seconds. Sign up now.
  • I don’t need to tell my family that I’d like to be a donor, because it’s already written in my will. By the time your will is read, it will be too late for you to be a donor. Telling your family now that you want to be an organ and tissue donor is the best way to help them understand your wishes and make certain they are honored.
  • Minorities should refuse to donate because organ allocation discriminates by race. Organs are matched by many factors including blood type, medical urgency and time on the waiting list. A patient’s age, gender, race, ethnicity or wealth does not affect who receives available organs. Minorities make up more than half of the people currently on the organ transplant waiting list, and patients are more likely to find matches among donors of their same race or ethnicity. This is why it is especially important for minorities to sign up to be organ donors.
  • Organs are sold, with enormous profits going to the medical community. Federal law prohibits buying and selling organs in the United States. Violators are punishable by prison sentences and fines.
  • The recipient will know who I am. Information about the donor is released to the recipient only if the family of the donor requests or agrees to it. Otherwise, the strictest confidence of patient privacy is maintained for both donor families and recipients.
  • “I heard that they take everything, even if I only want to donate my eyes.” You may specify which organs you want donated. Your wishes will be followed.
  • Organ and tissue donation means my body will be mutilated and treated badly. Donated organs are removed surgically, in a routine operation similar to gallbladder or appendix removal. Donation doesn’t disfigure the body or change the way it looks in a casket.

What do you think, Care2? Have you heard any of these myths before? How do you feel about organ donation? Sound off in the comments below!

Sources: Mayo Clinic, Donate Life, Trans Web


Carol S.
Carol S2 years ago


Christine Jones
Christine J2 years ago

Good article. Remember that even if you can't donate your organs (e.g. if you've had certain diseases or medical treatments they won't be accepted) you can still donate to medical/dental/veterinary schools for research and for students to learn their skills. As a staunch opponent of the use of animals in laboratories, it's great to be able to put your money (or should I say your body) where your mouth is.

Janice Thompson
Janice Thompson3 years ago

I have been an organ donor ever since I got my driver's license. However, right now I'm still using them.

Angela Roquemore
Angela Roquemore3 years ago

I'm signed up to be a donor.

Jennifer H.
Jennifer H3 years ago

Very informative. I had heard many of the myths. Glad to have them clarified.

Camilla Vaga
Camilla Vaga3 years ago


matt gowty
matt gowty3 years ago

Really interesting myth busting here! thank you for posting this informative article.

Alexandra Ekdahl
Alexandra Ekdahl3 years ago

Thank you

Joanna M.
Joanna M3 years ago

The way I see it, if I'm already gone, I'm already gone! So I may as well try to help others and their loved ones have a little more time on this earth.

Katherine May Williams

I'm a registered organ donor. And happy to be so. If you're in the UK you can register here: http://www.organdonation.nhs.uk

It's easy and you could end up saving many lives.