12 Common Misconceptions about Organ Transport and Procurement

Posted on July 25, 2017

Organ procurement is one of the biggest achievements of modern medicine which is helping save thousands of lives every day. Aided by organ donors, who we consider as the real heroes, organ procurement is improving the quality of the life for many while giving the recipients a second chance at life.

However, the need for organ donors has never been greater. In 2016, around 33,611 transplants were performed, despite that almost 22 people die everyday waiting for a transplant. Currently there are 117,000+ number of people including men, women and children on the national transplant waiting list in the United States alone with a new person added to the list every 10 minutes.

Even though organ donation is a noble act yet organ donors are always short in supply. A single organ donor can save up to at least 8 lives by donating lifesaving organs like the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, intestines and pancreas alongside tissue, skin, bone marrow and bone. Sadly though, there is a far longer list of people who need transplant as compared to the people who are willing to donate their organs.

Timely Organ Procurement and Transplant is Saving Precious Lives

Organ transportation services, also known as air ambulance flying ICU facility is used for the purpose of transporting patient’s organs from one location to another with utmost care. Organ transport is conducted through a specialized fleet and medical crew who is certified at delivering the precious cargo of life saving organs, tissues and expert organ procurement transplant personnel around the world.

Over distances where ground vehicles are ineffective, organ transportation services are helping save lives by successfully achieving time-sensitive organ exchange, both nationally and internationally.

Organ transplant is helping enhance and save precious lives every day but for years misconceptions have prevented people from participating in this great cause and signing up as organ donors. If you are interested in organ donation and are being held back by something you heard then you would probably want to check out our list of 12 common misconceptions and urban legends about organ transplant and organ procurement that we are debunking below:

Misconception #1: Only young people can be organ donors

TRUTH: Age does not necessarily determine the viability of organ donation or organ procurement. In 2016, 33% of organ donors in the United States were over the age of 50. Organ donors can range from young to old and only a complete medical evaluation at the time of death can help determine if a person is suitable for organ donation.

Misconception #2: The recipient of the organ/s knows who the donor is

TRUTH: According to state laws, the identity of the donor is generally not revealed. The organ recipient and their family might receive information regarding age, sex, state of residence and circumstances of death, the identity of the organ donor will be kept confidential. Similarly, the donor family might be informed regarding the transplant that was performed and receive feedback regarding the health of the recipient after the transplant, other specific details are usually kept from them. However, donation agencies do facilitate in correspondence and can arrange meetings between the donor family and the recipient if both parties desire so and agree.

Misconception #3: Organ donation can delay the funeral

TRUTH: Organ donation generally takes place within 10 – 12 hours and therefore do not delay the funeral of the deceased.

Misconception #4: Cancer patients cannot become organ donors

TRUTH: That is not entirely true. It all depends on the type and location of cancer as cancer survivors of five years or more are known to be organ donors. Some cancer patients are also known to be cornea donors. However, in order for medical personnel to determine whether or not a cancer patient or survivor can donate organs, they will have to conduct a complete medical examination and gain full social medical history of the donor. The initial findings regarding care, follow up-care and condition of the body at death are then studied and measured to determine if the cancer patient can be a donor or not.

Misconception #5: HIV patients cannot be organ donors

TRUTH: This can vary on case by case basis. As with any organ donation, medical evaluation is necessary and conducted by specific hospitals participating in the HOPE Act to determine the viability of the organs at or near the time of death.

Misconception #6: Family of the organ donor will be paid or will have to pay for donating organs

TRUTH: Costs related to organ donation are not the responsibility of the organ donor’s family. Donor family does not receive any payment or reimbursement and it costs them nothing. Costs related to recovery of donor organs and tissues are the complete responsibility of the recovery agency. The donor’s family is only responsible for the funeral cost and even then any additional cost incurred due to additional preparation of the donor’s body for the funeral are paid for by the recovery agency.

Misconception #7: Religion does not allow people from donating organs

TRUTH: All major religions of the world, with the exception of Shinto, approve of organ donation and consider it as a humanitarian act. Organ procurement and transplant is generally consistent with the life-preserving traditions of most faiths while some consider it a matter of personal choice. According to OrganDonor.gov, organ donation is supported by most religions in the U.S, however, it is always wise to speak to your religious or spiritual advisor.

Misconception #8: Organs of donors are sold to the highest bidders

TRUTH: Buying or selling of organs is illegal and under the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act of 1984, human organs cannot be bought or sold in the United States. Violators of this Act are subjected to strict fines and imprisonment. According to the national policy established by UNOS (United Network of Organ Sharing), recovered organs are required to be appropriately matched to recipients and then distributed.

Misconception #9: Rich people move up faster in the transplant waiting list and don’t have to wait

TRUTH: Organ procurement and organ transplant is an unbiased process. United States transplant centers and UNOS work together to create a waiting list in which priority is given on the basis of medical and scientific factors. The organ allocation and distribution system is blind to factors such as gender, age, race, social or wealth status of the recipient. The amount of time it takes for a person to receive a transplant really depends on a number of medical factors including blood type, severity of illness, time on waiting list and other medical criteria.

Misconception #10: Family of the organ donor does not need to know about the donor’s intentions to donate organs if it’s mentioned in their will or on their driver’s license

TRUTH: By the time a will is read to the donor’s family or the driver’s license is checked for information, it is normally too late to recover organs. Organ transplant and organ procurement is a time sensitive process which is why it is advisable for the donor to inform their family regarding their intentions of becoming an organ donor to ensure their wish is honored.

Misconception #11: People who donate their body to science can still donate their organs and tissue

TRUTH: You will not be able to donate your organs if you donate your body to science. Scientific facilities require the entire body for research and study which is why you will be unable to donate your organs or tissue for organ transplant services. However, in some cases, donors are still able to donate their eyes.

Misconception #12: Organ donation disfigures the body and loved ones will be unable to hold an open casket funeral

TRUTH: Organ donation does not disfigure the body or interfere with traditional funeral arrangements like the open casket. Because donated organs are removed surgically, doctors ensure that utmost dignity and respect is maintained for the donor at all times. Doctors will also be careful to reconstruct the body of the donor. Surgical lines are fully covered by clothing, plastic bones are used to allow shape of the legs and arms to remain the same after bone donation while a plastic cap is placed over the eyes to maintain the shape of the closed eyelids for eye donors.

At AirMed, we understand that organ procurement and organ transplant is a sensitive sector which is why we seamlessly facilitate Organ Procurement Organizations with efficient processes and organ transportation services. Our organ transportation services have proven to be critically life-saving for organ recipients who require time critical transplant services.

We understand that the window of time in which a recipient an organ is required to reach the recipient from the location of the donor to the hospital or organ transplant facility is short, which is why at AirMed we pre-plan ahead of time to ensure that our organ transportation services are able to bring the life-saving gift to the patients within time. Our team of medical professionals and accredited flight crew has achieved 100% compliance over hundreds of donor related service requests in the past few years and we have been successfully delivering donor organs to their destinations 24/7/365.