Myths versus reality: Registering as an organ donor
Special to the Appeal
This story is adapted from the Fall/Winter 2018/2019 edition of Peak NV magazine, a specialty publication of the Sierra Nevada Media Group and its affiliated media organizations: Nevada Appeal, The Record-Courier, Lahontan Valley News and Northern Nevada Business View. Go here to view a digital version of the magazine.
Making the decision to register as an organ, eye and tissue donor is an important one. Every time someone says YES to donation, it gives hope to the tens of thousands of patients waiting for a life-saving organ transplant and the thousands more in need of a tissue or cornea transplant.
Nevada Donor Network, the statewide Organ Procurement Organization (OPO), is dedicated to educating the public about registration so people can make informed decisions about donation based on facts rather than fiction.
Below are a few of the common myths about donation, along with the correct information to help you make your choice.
Myth: I am too old to be a donor
Reality: The oldest donor was actually 92 years old! Everyone can consider registration regardless of age. Medical professionals, to ensure transplant safety and viability, evaluate each potential donor individually. Nobody should prematurely rule themselves out if they would like to give the gift of life and health to those in need.
Myth: I cannot be a donor because of my medical conditions
Reality: Everyone should consider themselves a potential donor, regardless of previous or current medical conditions. Transplantation is constantly evolving, meaning certain medical conditions no longer rule out the possibility of donation. Additionally, cornea donation is still safe and possible in many cases where organ and tissue donation are not.
Myth: If doctors know I’m a registered organ, eye and tissue donor, they won’t work as hard to save me
Reality: This is simply not true. First responders, nurses and doctors are all trained and responsible for saving lives. If you are sick or injured and taken to a hospital, the first priority is always to save your life. Donation is only considered after all life-saving measures have been unsuccessful.
Myth: If I donate my organs, eyes or tissues, I won’t be able to have an open casket funeral
Reality: Throughout the process, a donor’s body is treated with respect and dignity. Organs and tissues are recovered in a surgical procedure and all incisions are closed and dressed. Every effort will be made to minimize changes to the physical appearance to ensure every single individual receives the honor he or she deserves. Nevada Donor Network works closely with donor families to understand their preferences for viewings and services.
Myth: Organ, eye and tissue donation is against my religion
Reality: Most major organized religions worldwide support or encourage organ, eye, and tissue donation and view it as the final act of charity or love. Learn more about your religion’s position on donation on the Nevada Donor Network website: http://www.nvdonor.org.
Myth: I registered as an organ, eye and tissue donor, but my family doesn’t need to know
Reality: Nevada Donor Network encourages everyone to discuss their wishes with their family and friends to ensure your decisions are being honored. Even if you have registered, organ procurement organizations must work closely with your family members to obtain medical and social history information and to guide them through the process. If you have not registered and have not discussed your wishes with your family, they may ultimately be faced with making the decision for you.
While it can be difficult to think about end-of-life decisions, making the choice to be a donor can impact the lives of dozens of people. Organ donation saves lives, tissue donation restores health and mobility and cornea donation gives sight to those who may otherwise be blind.
Additionally, many donor families find profound comfort and healing in knowing their loved one has left a lasting legacy.
Go to http://www.nvdonor.org for more information about the Nevada Donor Network and to register.