6 Common Organ Donation Myths Debunked

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

This post was last updated April 29, 2016


Every day, about 18 people in the United States die while waiting for an organ transplant. For people whose organs are failing because of end-stage organ disease, donated organs and tissue may offer the gift of sight, freedom from machines, or even life itself.

The Importance of Organ Donation

April is National Donate Life Month and the need for organ donors is greater than ever. Did you know?

  • An average of 68 organ transplants are performed every day in the United States.
  • A single donor may save or enhance the lives of up to 50 people.
  • Approximately 28,000 patients begin new lives each year thanks to organ transplants.
  • A kidney, a portion of the liver, and bone marrow can each be transplanted from living donors.
  • About three-quarters of all live donors are relatives of their recipient, most commonly a brother or sister.
  • The number of living unrelated donors has nearly tripled since 1998.
  • On average, 106 people are added to the nation’s organ transplant waiting list each day — one every 14 minutes.
  • More than 121,000 people currently are waiting for organ transplantation; with thousands more in need of tissue and corneal transplants. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania alone has more than 8,400 residents awaiting transplantation.
  • You have the power to save lives and improve the quality of life of those in need of any form of transplant.

Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions about organ donation.

Common Myths About Organ Donation


Myths about organ donation

Myth — if I am in a car accident, and the doctors and nurses find I’m a registered organ donor, they will not try to save my life.

Fact — Doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals will do everything they can to save your life.


Myths about organ donation

Myth — I have a history of medical illnesses, therefore my organs cannot be donated

Fact — Few conditions or illnesses preclude someone from being an organ donor. The Center for Organ Recovery and Education (CORE) will determine the suitability or organs at the time of a donor’s death.


Myths about organ donation

Myth — Only the heart, liver, and kidneys can be donated.

Fact — Most organs can be donated, including the stomach, intestines, pancreas, and lungs. You can also donate tendons, corneas, saphenous, and formal veins, skin and bone, fascia, an heart valves.


Myths about organ donation

Myth — I’m not the right age for organ donation.

Fact — There is no age limit for organ donation. The general age limit for tissue donation is 80 and for cornea donation 70.


Myths about organ donation

Myth — Wealthy people are the only people who receive transplants.

Fact — Organs are matched first according to height, weight, and blood type, followed by medical urgency and then time accrued on the waiting list. Fame and fortune do not determine who receives a transplant. Most major insurances now cover transplants.


Myths about organ donation

Myth — I Cannot Choose Which Organs I Want to Donate.

Fact — On your donor card, you can list which organs and tissues you’re willing to donate.

For more information on how to become an organ donor, and for a list of UPMC Donate Life Month events, visit the UPMC Organ Donation website.


Transplant Services

For more than 30 years, UPMC Transplantation Services has defined the field of transplantation. Since 1981, we have performed more than 17,500 organ transplants. Our role as a pioneer in solid organ transplantation has allowed us to develop some of the most extensive clinical expertise in the field, giving hope to patients across the country and around the world. Read More