Hiding behind the low organ and tissue donation among minorities is that, reason and facts are sacrificed for opinion and myth. Many times, false information is circulated and recycled as fact, as myth is more comfortable than the often-difficult search for truth.
What are Myths? Popular beliefs or tradition that have grown up around something or someone; they embody the ideals and institutions of a society or segment of society, and are imaginary and have unverifiable existence.
What are Facts? A piece of information presented as having objective reality, and existence.
Below are some of the common Myths surrounding organ and tissue donation and the Facts about false information.
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. A donation is only a possibility when all lifesaving methods have failed.
Myth: Maybe I won’t be dead when they sign my death certificate.
Fact: Multiple tests are done to confirm the deceased patient is brain dead before organ donation. Brain death is final and no the same as a coma.
Myth: Organ donation is against my religion.
Fact: Organ donation is consistent with the beliefs of most major religions. Most religions consider organ donor as an act of love and generosity towards others. If you’re unsure of your faith’s position on donation, ask a member of your clergy.
Myth: I’m too old to be a donor.
Fact: There’s no age limit for organ donation. To date, the oldest organ donor in the U.S is 93 years old. What matters is the condition and health of your organs when you die.
Myth: I’m under age 18. I’m too young to make this decision.
Fact: Legally, that’s true. But your parents or legal guardian can authorize this decision. Children, too, are in need of organ transplants, and they usually need organs smaller than those an adult can provide.
Myth: An open-casket funeral isn’t an option for people who have donated organs or tissues.
Fact: Organ and tissue donation doesn’t interfere with having an open-casket funeral. The donor’s body is treated with honor and dignity and clothed for burial, so there are no visible signs of organ or tissue donation.
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. Don’t prematurely disqualify yourself. Only medical professionals at the time of your death can determine whether your organs are suitable for transplantation.
Myth: 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.
Fact: If you decide to become a living donor, 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.
Myth: My family will be charged if I donate my organs.
Fact: The organ donor’s family is never charged for donation. Costs for organ removal go to the transplant recipient.
Myth: Rich and famous people on waiting lists get organs faster.
Fact: A national computer system matches donated organs to recipients using factors like geography, blood type, and time spent waiting to mention a few. Race, income, and fame are never a factor.
Myth: Someone could sell my organs after taking them
Fact: Federal laws prohibit the buying and selling of organs with dire penalties attached to violators.
Myth: Members of the LGBT community cannot donate.
Fact: No federal law states that. The health of the organ is what matters
Kindly consider that when we donate organs and tissue, we give life, just like when we donate blood. This month – January is National Blood Donation Month. Most people have no problem with giving a blood donation. This same attitude can be adopted towards organ and tissue donation – giving the gift of life to another human-being.
Dr. Tolu Oyewumi is a Physician and Epidemiologist. She is also a Certified Coach, Speaker, Teacher, Trainer and a writer, who is a strong advocate for health literacy.