The Truth About Organ Donation

A cutout of a red heart on top of green grass.

Too often there are myths or misconceptions regarding organ donation. These myths create barriers to the conversation about organ donation, and to being accurately informed.

With the growth of healthcare technology and advanced medicine, there is an increased need for organ donation awareness.

A decision about donation needs to be well informed. South Carolina has a donor registry where you can make a first-person consent for donation. Why is that important? Families are so overwhelmed in a tragedy that they may not remember if someone wanted to donate. The registry provides a way for wishes to be carried out and takes the decision-making burden off the family.

Discover Help wants to dispel a few myths to help you make an informed decision.

Myth No. 1

I have a medical condition, so I can’t be a donor.


Anyone, regardless of age or medical history, can sign up to be a donor. The transplant team will determine at an individual’s time of death whether donation is possible. There are few conditions that would prevent a person from becoming a donor — such as HIV infection, active cancer or a systemic infection. Even with an illness, you may be able to donate your organs or tissues.

Myth No. 2

I’m too old to be a donor.


There’s no age limit to organ donation. To date, the oldest donor in the U.S. was 93. What matters is the health and condition of your organs when you die.

Myth No. 3

I don’t think my religion supports donation.


Most major religions in the United States support organ donation and consider donation as the final act of love and generosity toward others. For more about religion and organ donation, visit SC Donate Life.

Myth No. 4

If they see I’m a donor at the hospital, they won’t try to save my life.


When you are sick or injured and admitted to a hospital, the one and only priority is to save your life. Period. Donation doesn’t become a possibility until all lifesaving methods have failed.

Myth No. 5

Rich or famous people on the waiting list get organs faster.


A national computer system matches donated organs to recipients. The factors used in matching include blood type, time spent waiting, medical information, level of illness and geographic location. Race, income and notoriety are never considered.

Myth No. 6

My family won’t be able to have an open casket funeral if I’m a donor.


An open casket funeral is usually possible for organ, eye and tissue donors. Through the entire donation process, the body is treated with care, respect and dignity.

Myth No. 7

My family will have to pay for the donation.


There is no cost to donors or their families for organ or tissue donation.

Myth No. 8

Somebody could take my organs and sell them.


Federal law prohibits buying and selling organs in the U.S. Violators can be punished with prison sentences and fines.

Myth No. 9

If I’m in a coma, they could take my organs.


The majority of deceased organ donors are patients who have been declared brain dead. Brain death is not the same as coma. People can recover from comas, but not from brain death. Brain death is final.

Myth No. 10

People in the LGBT community can’t donate.


There is no policy or federal regulation that excludes a member of the LGBT community from donating organs. What matters in donating organs is the health of the organs.

You can register at your local DMV or

Prepared by Discover Health.