April is National Donate Life Awareness Month. Are You A Registered Donor?


According to Gift of Life Michigan, more than 3,500 very sick Michigan residents are waiting today for organ transplants, and a new shot at life. Even more need tissue donations to help improve their quality of life, relieve pain, or to help them see again.
While Michiganders have been registering to be donors at impressive rates since 2010, there are myths about organ and tissue donation you might have heard – and some are frightening! Following are some of the more common falsehoods. Decide for yourself if you would like to become a donor, and add that little “heart” to your Driver’s License today.

Organ & Tissue Donation: Myth vs Fact

The Gift of Life Advocates dispel some misconceptions about organ and tissue donation:

Myth: If doctors see that I’m a donor, they won’t save my life.

Fact: In reality, a medical center will do everything in their power to save your life, regardless of whether or not you are on the donor registry. “We want everyone to know that we are going to do everything we can to save your family or loved one,” urges Valerie Canary, Organ and tissue Donation Liaison at Hurley Medical Center. “It’s only at the time when a family decides to withdraw, or a patient has been declared brain-dead, that organ donation is discussed.”

Myth: If I register as an organ and tissue donor, they will call me and tell me that someone needs my liver.

Fact: Registering as an organ and tissue donor is not the same thing as becoming a living donor. Even then, everything you do with your body is your choice. There is a process that begins with a blood test for compatibility. If a match is found, a living donor pursues donation. Because a person can live with only one kidney, living donation is possible; but only if you are a match. Whereas, all other organ and tissue donations are performed only after the registered donor has passed away.

Myth: If I donate my organs, I won’t be able to have an open casket at my funeral.

Fact: This is also untrue – a traditional funeral service is still possible. Everyone has the right to choose what they want to donate, and those with an Advance Directive, (Living Will) can spell out exactly what they wish to donate upon their death.

Myth: I won’t donate because it costs money.

Fact: There is no charge for donating an organ – Gift of Life pays for everything.

Myth: My religion doesn’t allow it.

Fact: Nearly all religions support organ donation, because what can be more loving than to save a life? Gift of Life supplies information on every major religion’s stance on the issue. Even Jehovah’s Witnesses or others who don’t allow blood transfusions can donate, because medical advancements have allowed for a “bloodless surgery” option.

Myth: I cannot donate because I have a chronic illness or other health condition.

Fact: Even chronic illness doesn’t make you ineligible. In fact, you might be a match for someone who has the same disease. The Gift of Life team can assess your eligibility – they determine any medical rule-outs. There are donors of all ages and medical conditions.

Myth: If you are on dialysis for a kidney transplant, you are fine while you wait for a donor organ.

Fact: Dialysis is very hard on the body. The procedure makes it impossible to do anything else on treatment days. There are no vacations from dialysis, either – a kidney patient must have dialysis, or the consequences can be fatal.

Other Facts About Organ Donation in Genesee County:

  • There are about 3,000+ Michigan residents waiting for a kidney; 125,000+ nationally. That is enough people to fill The Big House at U of M in Ann Arbor.
  • One organ donor can save up to eight lives and one tissue donor can improve up to 50 lives.
  • Hurley Medical Center has only between 10-15 organ donors annually. In Michigan, only 1% of potential donors actually complete the donation – making each successful organ and tissue donation an amazing gift.
  • The average wait for an organ, if you have a living donor, is 3-4 years. If you don’t find a living donor, it can be anywhere from 5-10 years.

How to Register as an Organ & Tissue Donor

It takes about 30 seconds to become a donor online through the Secretary of State or Gift of Life. If you would rather sign up in person, visit any Genesee District Library – all you need is your Driver’s License. Or, sign up in person at the Secretary of State. The way to donate specific organs is to sign an Advance Directive and talk with your family about your end-of-life wishes.

For more information, visit giftoflifemichigan.org.

Decide for yourself if you would like to become a donor, and add that little “heart” to your Driver’s License today.


Comments are closed.