NEWARK—While most people in the U.S. approve of organ donation, only about half of those individuals actually agree to allow the donation of a loved one’s organs when asked to do so, reports The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS).
Nearly 100,000 people are on the national organ transplant waiting list. On an average day, about 77 people receive organ transplants. But thousands more die while awaiting organ transplantation before a suitable donor organ has been found.
Inaccurate information may cause some individuals to shy away from organ donation.
Many people are relieved to find that their concerns are unwarranted, reports Shamkant Mulgaonkar, M.D., chief, Renal and Pancreas Transplant Division, Saint Barnabas Health Care System, located at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and Saint Barnabas Medical Center.
“Misconceptions about the organ donation process are the most likely reasons for the gap between the number of people who would like to be donors and the number who actually register,” relates Dr. Mulgaonkar. “Organ donations offer a second chance at life for the grateful recipients, and many donor families say that knowing other lives have been saved helps them cope with their tragic loss.”
The Renal Transplant Division at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and the UNOS offer this information about organ donation:
1. Concern: If a patient is identified as a donor, the hospital staff will not work as hard to save his or her life and will remove his/her organs prematurely.
This is untrue. The organ procurement organization isn’t involved with the potential organ donor until after the patient has been pronounced dead. The physician in charge of a patient’s care has nothing to do with transplantation.
2. Concern: Organ donation goes against religious beliefs.
Organ donation is consistent with the beliefs of most religions including Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam and most branches of Judaism. If you’re unsure of or uncomfortable with your faith’s position on donation, ask a member of your clergy.
3. Concern: A person can be too old to be an organ donor.
Organ and tissue donors who are well into their 70s are seen. The decision to use your organs is based on strict medical criteria, not age.
4. Concern: Open casket funerals are impossible for organ donors.
Donation takes place under the same strict, sterile conditions as any surgical procedure. A donor is treated with extreme care and respect, and the body is not disfigured in any way.
5. Concern: It is impossible to do a live kidney donation unless the donor is giving to a close family member.
Whether it is a family member, friend or complete stranger who you want to help, you can donate a kidney. For more information about living-donor kidney transplant programs at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center Renal Transplant, call 1-877-878-7555.
6. Concern: The family of the donor will be charged for the donation.
The organ donor’s family is never charged for donating. Costs for organ removal go to the transplant recipient.
The Saint Barnabas Health Care System Renal Transplant Division, located at Saint Barnabas and Newark Beth Israel, ranked 7th in the nation in 2007 with 257 renal transplants. In 2008, the number rose to 273 at the two facilities, raising the ranking to 4th in the country.
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