Myth Busters


Fact: Organ and tissue recovery takes place only after all efforts to save your life have been exhausted and death has been legally declared. The medical team treating you is completely separate from the transplant team. Organ donation is not an option until all lifesaving efforts have failed and death has been determined. The OPO does not notify the transplant team until your family has consented to donation.

Fact: By the time your will is read, it will be too late to recover your organs. Enrolling in the Donate Life NY Registry and telling your family now that you want to be an organ and tissue donor is the best way to ensure that your wishes are carried out.

Fact: The donor family and/or the donor’s estate is never billed for any costs relating to donation.

Fact: All major religions fully support organ and tissue donation and the concept of brain death.

View our comprehensive listing of religions and their stance on donation.

Fact: The organ allocation and distribution system is blind to wealth or social status. The length of time it takes to receive a transplant is governed by many factors, including blood type, length of time on the waiting list, severity of illness and other medical criteria. Factors such as race, gender, age, income or celebrity status is never considered when determining who receives an organ.

Fact: People of all ages can be donors; from newborns to people in their 90s. At the time of death, the appropriate medical professionals will determine whether the organs are viable for transplantation.

Fact: At the time of death, the appropriate medical professionals will review your medical and social histories to determine whether or not you can be a donor. With recent advances in transplantation, many more people than ever before can be donors. It’s best to join your state registry and tell your family your wishes.

Fact: The body is treated with the utmost respect and dignity during the procurement process. Donated organs are removed surgically, in a routine operation similar to gallbladder or appendix removal. Donation does not disfigure the body or rule out an open casket funeral.

Fact: This tale has been widely circulated over the Internet. There is absolutely no evidence of such activity ever occurring in the U.S. or any other industrialized country. While the tale may sound credible, it has no basis in reality. 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.

Fact: Needed organs include the heart, lungs, kidneys, pancreas, liver and intestine. Tissues that can be donated include the eyes, skin, bone, heart valves, blood vessels, cartilage and tendons.