Top 10 Myths About Donation & Transplantation

Myth #1
"I heard about this guy who went to a party, and woke up the next morning in a bathtub full of ice. His kidneys were stolen for sale on the black market!"

Fact "This tale has been widely circulated over the Internet. There is absolutely no evidence of such activity ever occurring in the U.S. While the tale may sound credible, it has not basis in the reality of organ transplantation. Many people who hear the myth probably dismiss it, but it is possible that some believe it and decide against organ donation out of needless fear." Reference: Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network at

Myth #2
"Rich and famous people get moved to the top of the waiting list, while 'regular' people have to wait a long time for a transplant."

Fact The organ allocation and distribution system is blind to name, celebrity or social status, or wealth. "When you are on the transplant waiting list for a donor organ, what really counts is the severity of your illness, time spent waiting, blood type, and other important medical information." Reference: Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network at While many cases of celebrities receiving transplants are reported by the media, celebrities have to wait in line just like everyone else. It is often forgotten that some celebrities have died waiting in line for a transplant. NFL star Walter Payton, for example, died awaiting a liver transplant.

Myth #3
"If I'm in an accident and the hospital knows I want to be a donor, the doctors won't try to save my life!"

Fact If you are sick or injured and admitted to the hospital, the number one priority is to save your life. The medical team treating you is separate from the transplant team. The team coordinating the donation is not notified until all lifesaving efforts have failed and death has been determined. The transplant team would not be notified until your family has consented to donation.

Myth #4
"My religion does not approve of donation."

Fact All organized religions support donation, typically considering it a generous act that is the individual's choice. Refer to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) area of this website for a summary of the major religions and their view on donation.

Myth #5
"I don't want my family to have to pay if I want to donate my organs."

Fact The donor's family (or their insurance company) is only responsible for paying for medical care up to the point of death. Once death occurs, any expenses related to organ or tissue donation are covered and there will be no charges to the donor's estate or the donor's family.

Occasionally, the hospital's billing system may make an unfortunate mistake and the donor's family may be accidentally billed for services related to donation. If this occurs, the donor's family should contact the hospital and/or the organ procurement organization. The OPO is the team that coordinates donation and can be found at

Myth #6
"If I donate, I would worry that the recipient and/or the recipient's family would discover my identity and cause more grief for my family."

Fact Information about the donor is released by the team that coordinates the donation to the recipients only if the family that donated requests it be provided. Refer to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) within this website for an explanation of how this is handled.

Myth #7
"I have a history of medical illness. You would not want my organs or tissues."

Fact At the time of death, the team that coordinates donation will review medical and social histories to determine donor suitability on a case-by-case basis. Many diseases that were once considered to exclude organ donation are no longer considered a barrier. Examples include hepatitis and diabetes.

Myth #8
"I am not the right age for donation."

Fact Age limits for organ donation no longer exist. Organs may be donated from someone as young as a newborn and as old as 90. The liver, in particular, does not age like other organs and livers are commonly donated by people in their 70's and 80's.

Myth #9
"I heard that they take everything, even if I only want to donate my eyes."

Fact You may specify which organs you want donated. Your wishes will be followed.

Myth #10
"Organ and tissue donation means my body will be mutilated and treated badly."

Fact Donated organs are removed surgically, in a routine operation similar to gallbladder or appendix removal. Refer to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section of this website for an explanation of the donation surgery. Donation doesn't disfigure the body or change the way it looks in a casket. Normal funeral arrangements are possible.