UK HealthCare

Separating Myth from Fact about Organ Donation

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The University of Kentucky Public Relations & Strategic Communications Office provides a weekly health column available for use and reprint by news media. This week's column is by Ashley Montgomery-Yates, M.D., head of the UK Transplant Center Donation Committee.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 11, 2022) ­ April is Donate Life Month and a celebration of the generous people who gave the gift of life as either a living donor or who opted to be a donor upon their passing.

More than 1,000 Kentuckians are awaiting the gift of a life-saving organ. Organs that can be donated include kidneys, heart, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestines. Tissue that can be donated includes heart valves, corneas, skin, bone, ligaments, tendons, fascia, veins and nerves. One organ donor can save up to eight lives. One tissue donor can heal more than 75 lives. Anyone can register to be an organ donor, but there are some pervasive myths that dissuade people from joining the registry. Here are some common misconceptions about organ donation.

MYTH: I’m too unhealthy and my organs couldn’t be used.

FACT: People of all ages and medical histories should consider themselves potential donors. Your medical condition at the time of death will determine what organs and tissues can be donated.

MYTH: My religion doesn’t support organ donation.

FACT: All major religions support donation as a final act of compassion and generosity.

MYTH: Doctors won’t try to save you if you’re an organ donor.

FACT: Your life always comes first. Doctors work hard to save every patient’s life, but sometimes there is a complete and irreversible loss of brain function and the patient is declared clinically and legally dead. Only then is donation an option.

MYTH: I registered to be a donor, but my family can override my decision.

FACT: Once a person turns 18, the decision to say “yes” is considered a legal, advanced directive. You should still inform your family of your decision. Upon your death, the recovery organization will inform them of your decision to be a donor and will involve them in the donation process, but will not ask them for authorization.

MYTH: If someone tests positive for COVID-19, they can’t donate.

FACT: Until recently, an individual who tested positive for active COVID-19 would not be able to donate. However, transplant centers have started accepting some COVID-positive donor organs in cases where the individual has no active symptoms. Like cancer diagnoses, organ donation opportunities may still exist with the presence of a COVID positive result nasopharyngeal test and negative bronchial lavage test.

For more information on organ donation and to register to become an organ donor, visit

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