By R. Patrick Wood, M.D.
Recently the Beyond Bones Zoomcast welcomed R. Patrick Wood, M.D. from the organ procurement organization LifeGift onto the weekly interview show to chat about donating our organs after we die. We asked Dr. Wood to dispel some rumors and myths about this important, life-saving act.
Organ, eye, and tissue donation is a selfless act of giving and a way to help others after you pass away. According to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, there are 107,000 men, women, and children on the national transplant waiting list. By registering to be an organ, eye, and tissue donor, you can save or improve as many as 75 lives.
There are many misconceptions about the donation process. We’ve sorted out the facts from fiction, so you can make the most informed decision.
The top five myths about organ, eye, and tissue donation:
Myth: Doctors won’t work as hard to save my life if I’m a donor.
Truth: All doctors take a Hippocratic Oath to save lives and are deeply committed to their duty. Organ donation is only broached once it is determined that nothing more can be done to save a patient’s life. Donation is handled by a completely different team than the doctors working to save your life.
Myth: If I’m a donor, I won’t be able to have a traditional funeral.
Truth: Donation does not disfigure the body. When organs, eyes, and tissue are recovered for transplant, it’s done with deep respect for the person and with care for the body. It’s similar to any other surgery, and medical teams work hard to ensure that families can have an open-casket funeral.
Myth: I’m too old to be an organ donor or I’m not healthy enough to be an organ donor.
Truth: Many people choose not to register because they assume that their organs are too old and will not be useable. In many cases, this is simply not true. Advancing age does not often prevent donation.
Myth: All donated organs go to rich and famous people.
Truth: The organ transplant waiting list is blind to celebrity, wealth, and race. The system is managed by the United Network for Organ Sharing, and organs are matched with recipients based on blood type and other medical information. Race, income, and celebrity are never a factor in determining who gets an organ transplant.
Myth: Donation is against my religion.
Truth: Most major religions support the principles of organ donation and transplantation. In fact, many consider the gift of life to be the greatest legacy a person can leave.
A few more facts:
One organ donor can impact the lives of up to eight transplant recipients. Organs that can be donated include the heart, liver, kidneys, pancreas, lungs, and intestines.
One tissue donor can help hundreds of people. Cornea donors provide the gift of sight to two people. Skin donors help burn victims recover from traumatic injuries. Bone, heart valve, and tendon donors help many people return to health.
Sign up to be a donor
Becoming a registered donor is a selfless act of caring which means you agree to donate your organs, eyes, and tissue to others after death. Registering puts the decision to donate in your hands since the consent recorded cannot be overturned by others. It also means that your family and loved ones will have clear guidance and will not have to decide for you should something sudden and tragic occur. Register today at Donate Life Texas. The registration process only takes minutes and you can provide others with a second chance at life.
About The Author
R. Patrick Wood, M.D., is LifeGift’s executive vice president, and chief medical officer, and a long-time Texas Medical Center liver transplant surgeon.