Don’t let myths about organ donation keep you from saving a life

Dr. George Sokos

Right now, about 120,000 people in the United States are in need of an organ transplant, including many West Virginians. Sadly, more than 20 patients die each day because they’re not able to receive a suitable organ donation in time.

While it may be uncomfortable to think about what happens to your body after you die, choosing to become an organ donor is a compassionate and meaningful act. Has inaccurate information about organ donation led you to decline becoming a donor? In honor of National Donate Life Month, WVU Heart and Vascular Institute’s George Sokos, DO, provides you with the facts and benefits about organ donation to help you decide if it’s right for you.

MYTH: Hospital staff won’t try to revive me if I’m an organ donor and become seriously injured.
Only after medical staff has attempted every life-saving method will the Center for Organ Recovery and Education (CORE) be contacted. Doctors and nurses will do all that they can to attempt to save your life if you are hurt.

MYTH: My organs are too old to donate.
There is no specific age range for being an organ donor. Each possible donor is considered at the time of death to decide which organs and tissues would work best for donation.

MYTH: I have a medical illness, so my organs can’t be donated.
CORE will review your medical history at the time of death, and only a few illnesses, like active cancer, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), or a severe infection, usually prevent you from becoming a donor.

MYTH: Costs from organ donation will be left for my family to pay.
Organ donation does not cost you or your family anything. CORE covers any costs related to your donation.

MYTH: If I donate organs, I can't have an open-casket funeral.
Organ donation will not affect traditional funeral arrangements, and doctors will perform the surgical procedures for organ donation with respect to your memory.

MYTH: My donated organs could be bought and sold on the black market.
Buying and selling organs and tissue on the black market is illegal through the National Organ Transplant Act. The complexity of organ donation also makes it very unlikely that organs could be transferred through criminal operations. Highly-trained medical professionals and modern medical clinics are needed and organs must be matched with the proper recipient.


You may be able to save up to eight lives.
Each person can donate up to eight crucial organs, including the heart, kidneys, liver, and lungs. A part of you will continue living, and you can help someone’s child, mother, father, brother, sister, etc.

You will improve someone’s quality of life. An eye or tissue transplant will enable someone to see again, and a person will no longer be dependent on expensive routine treatments to stay alive after receiving your organ donation. Someone will return to a normal life because of you.

Your donation may help your family members in their grieving process.
While your loved ones are mourning your loss, it may comfort them to know that you have enabled others to live better lives through your organ donation.

You will leave behind a wonderful story of hope.
Yours will be a compassionate legacy that the donor will never forget, and you may feel peace and meaning knowing that as you leave this life, you will be helping someone else with your organ donation. Learn more about stories of hope from CORE.

Each year, the waiting list of people who need a transplant continues to grow. Are you willing to help someone who desperately needs a healthy organ? Register to become a donor today.