Organ donation: Know the facts

July 26, 2017
For many years, a wild tale circulated on the internet about a man who woke up in a bathtub full of ice. One of his kidneys was missing and a note left at the scene stated that the organ had been sold on the black market. There was no evidence this incident occurred, yet the tale fueled fears and misperceptions about organ donation and transplantation.

Unfortunately, this myth and many others like it continue to impact thousands of people waiting for an organ transplant. Research shows that 95 percent of Americans say they support organ donation, but the gap between supporting and actually donating is wide. This greatly affects availability and wait times for organs. For some, waiting too long can mean the difference between life and death. 

Ignore the myths, get the facts

Here’s more about organ donation and how it works:
  • A national computer system and strict standards ensure ethical and fair distribution of organs. Organs are matched by blood and tissue typing, size, medical urgency, waiting time and geographic location.
  • Organs and tissues that can be donated include: heart, kidneys, lungs, pancreas, liver, intestines, corneas, skin, tendons, bone and heart valves. One deceased donor can save up to eight lives through organ donation, and can save and enhance more than 100 lives through tissue donation.
  • People of all ages and medical histories should consider themselves potential donors. Even people in their 80s and 90s can donate skin, bone, heart valves, cartilage and corneas.
  • There is no cost to the donor’s family or estate for organ and tissue donation.
  • If you are sick or injured and admitted to the hospital, the No. 1 priority is to save your life. Organ donation can only be considered after brain death has been declared by a physician.
  • Information about an organ donor is only released to the recipient if the family of the donor requests or agrees to it. Otherwise, a patient’s privacy is maintained for both donor families and recipients.
  • Organ donation is consistent with the beliefs of most major religions.
  • An open-casket funeral is possible for organ and tissue donors.
  • Even if you have indicated your wishes on your driver’s license, state donor registry or a donor card, share your decision with your family so they know your wishes.
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Sign up to be an organ donor today. Visit organdonor.gov to find out how.  

The Swedish Organ Transplant and Liver Center is one of seven kidney transplant centers and one of just four liver transplant centers serving the Pacific Northwest. They offer patients care for kidney, liver and pancreas transplants. Visit the Swedish Organ Transplant and Liver Center website to learn more.  


Topics: Medicine, Services