Hesitating to get on organ donor list? Here’s why you shouldn’t wait

1 person can donate up to 8 lifesaving organs

A surgeon works in an operating room. (Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels.)

If someone has ever asked you if you wanted to be an organ donor, what was your initial feeling or thought?

Were you hesitant, scared or nervous? Perhaps you hadn’t really considered what donating would mean. Or maybe you decided not to sign up to donate and didn’t give it a second thought.

Maybe you’ve asked yourself this question: Will a health care provider do everything they can to fight for my life, regardless of my organ donor status?

That might be one of the most common considerations.

Here’s the thing, though: Whether you’re an organ donor does not even enter a conversation between families and health care providers until all lifesaving measures have been attempted, according to the American Transplant Foundation.

The first priority of a medical professional is to save the lives of those who arrive at the hospital. And those doctors and nurses who were part of care before death are not typically involved in the recovery or transplantation of donated organs.

Some people may be concerned they'll even still be alive after their death certificate is signed. But to further put your mind at ease, Mayo Clinic says people who have agreed to organ donation will get even more tests to ensure they really are dead.

So why are we even addressing this? Because in the event you are hesitant or scared to put yourself on the organ donor list, we think it’s important information to know. There are a few other important things worth mentioning, too — and they may help you make up your mind that signing up as a donor is absolutely necessary.

1. The number of people who are waiting for an organ donation far exceeds the number of people who are signed up to be donors, and the difference in the numbers is growing.

2. Someone is added to the transplant list every nine minutes.

3. Nearly 2,000 children under the age of 18 are on the list, awaiting an organ that could save their life.

4. One person can donate up to eight lifesaving organs.

5. On average, 17 people die each day waiting for a transplant.

6. Only three out of 1,000 people die in a way that allows them to donate an organ.

7. People don’t seem to want to put their money where their mouth is. While 90% of the United States population says they support organ donation, only 60% are actually signed up to be a donor.

8. More than 50% of people on the donor list are ethnic minorities.

9. About 37 million people in the US have chronic kidney disease, and many of them don’t even know it.

10. Liver and kidney disease kill more than 120,000 people each year -- that’s more people than breast cancer, prostate cancer or Alzheimer’s disease.

11. It’s not just main organs that are transplanted. Tissue that includes corneas, skin, veins, heart valves, tendons, ligaments and bones can also be donated. In fact, the cornea is the most common transplanted tissue, according to the American Transplant Foundation.

12. Age and medical condition don’t matter. Regardless of age or medical history, you can sign up to be a donor.

13. People whose organs have been donated can still typically have an open casket funeral.

14. You can’t have your organs taken if you’re in a coma. Majority of deceased organ donors are people who have already been declared brain dead.

These might seem like heavy facts to swallow, but they are important. If you’re still hesitant, educate yourself even more.

Learn everything there is to know and then when you’re ready, it’s as simple as signing up online within just a couple minutes.

About the Author:

Dawn Jorgenson, Graham Media Group Branded Content Managing Editor, began working with the group in April 2013. She graduated from Texas State University with a degree in electronic media.