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National Health Observances

Organ Donation Myths and Facts

Myth 1: I have a medical condition, so I can’t be a donor.

Fact: Anyone, regardless of age or medical history, can sign up to be a donor. 

The transplant team will determine at an individual’s time of death whether donation is possible.

There are very few conditions that would prevent a person from becoming a donor—such as HIV infection, active cancer, or a systemic infection. You should still consider registering. Even with an illness, you may be able to donate your organs or tissues.


Myth 2: I’m too old to be a donor.

Fact: There’s no age limit to organ donation. 

To date, the oldest donor in the U.S. was age 93. What matters is the health and condition of your organs when you die.


Myth 3: I don’t think my religion supports donation.

Fact: Most major religions in the United States support organ donation and consider donation as the final act of love and generosity toward others. 

For more about religion and organ donation, check here.


Myth 4: If they see I’m a donor at the hospital, they won’t try to save my life.

Fact: When you are sick or injured and admitted to a hospital, the one and only priority is to save your life. Period. Donation doesn’t become a possibility until all lifesaving methods have failed.


Myth 5: Rich or famous people on the waiting list get organs faster.

Fact: A national computer system matches donated organs to recipients. 

The factors used in matching include blood type, time spent waiting, other important medical information, how sick the person is, and geographic location. Race, income, and celebrity are NEVER considered.


Myth 6: My family won’t be able to have an open casket funeral if I’m a donor.

Fact: An open casket funeral is usually possible for organ, eye, and tissue donors. 

Through the entire donation process, the body is treated with care, respect, and dignity.


Myth 7: My family will have to pay for the donation.

Fact: There is no cost to donors or their families for organ or tissue donation.


Myth 8: Somebody could take my organs and sell them.

Fact: Federal law prohibits buying and selling organs in the U.S. 

Violators can be punished with prison sentences and fines.


Myth 9: If I’m in a coma, they could take my organs.

Fact: The majority of deceased organ donors are patients who have been declared brain dead. 

But brain death is NOT the same as coma. People can recover from comas, but not from brain death. Brain death is final. More about brain death >


Myth 10: People in the LGBT community can’t donate.

Fact: There is no policy or federal regulation that excludes a member of the LGBT community from donating organs. 

What matters in donating organs is the health of the organs.