Are These Common Organ Donor Myths Stopping You From Saving a Life?

10 Things You May Not Know About Organ Donation

Oct 4, 2017


Organ donor enrollment day

On October 4, NewYork-Presbyterian is celebrating Organ Donor Enrollment Day by launching a new campaign to educate New Yorkers about the need for organ donations and encourage people across the state to become organ donors.

The campaign comes at a time when New York ranks 50th out of 50 states with regard to the percentage of residents registered as organ donors.

As the region’s leader in performing the highest volume of solid organ transplant surgeries, NewYork-Presbyterian is taking this opportunity to dispel common myths that can sometimes prevent people from becoming organ donors.

Top 10 Organ Donor Myths

  1. MYTH: “I can only be an organ donor if I’m deceased.”
    FACT: In addition to deceased donors, living donors can also save lives. It’s possible for a living person to donate a kidney, a portion of their liver, a portion of a lung and in some rare instances, a portion of the intestines and pancreas.
  2. MYTH: “There are enough organs available in New York. I don’t need to become a registered organ donor.”
    FACT: Only 30 percent of residents are registered organ donors – in comparison, nationwide, the average is 52 percent. This statistic, coupled with the fact that every 18 hours someone in New York State dies waiting for an organ, helps explain why there aren’t enough organs donated to meet the needs of patients awaiting organ transplants.
  3. MYTH: “I can only donate to someone I know or a family member.”
    FACT: You can in fact donate to a stranger, as well as a family member or friend. It’s also possible to donate an organ to a person from another racial or ethnic group.
  4. MYTH: “I’m too young/old to donate my organs.”
    FACT: Although you must be 16 years of age to sign up on the New York State Donate Life Registry, age isn’t a factor in all donations. Organs have been transplanted from donors in their 70s and 80s, and even 90-year-olds have donated their livers in the United States.
  5. MYTH: “I’m too sick and have too many health problems to become an organ donor.”
    FACT: Very few medical conditions disqualify you from donating organs and tissues. While certain organs may not be suitable for transplant, other organs and tissues may be fine.
  6. MYTH: “It’s against my religion to donate.”
    FACT: Most major religions publicly endorse organ donation as the highest gesture of humanitarianism, including Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam, Buddhism and most branches of Judaism.
  7. MYTH: “If I’m facing a life or death situation, doctors won’t try as hard to save my life.”
    FACT: Medical professionals caring for a patient do everything possible to save a patient's life, and have nothing to do with transplant and organ donation. If a patient becomes a potential organ donor, a separate team will discuss this option with the patient’s family.
  8. MYTH: “Only those who are wealthy or who are celebrities receive organ transplants.”
    FACT: The organ transplant waiting list is blind to wealth and celebrity status. People receive organs based on the severity of the illness, time spent on the waiting list and blood type.
  9. MYTH: “Being a registered organ donor will interfere with being buried after I, or a loved one dies.”
    FACT: Organ donation will not delay funeral arrangements or change any funeral plans. Additionally, open-casket viewing is possible after any type of donation.
  10. MYTH: “It’s difficult to become a registered organ donor in New York.”
    FACT: There are several quick and easy ways to become both a deceased and living organ donor in New York:

    Donor Registration
    • Check off the donor box on your driver’s license application or renewal form
    • Register online at
    • Sign up when you register to vote
    • Enroll when you apply for a NYC Municipal ID
    • Residents can also become a registered organ donor when signing-up for health insurance on the New York State Health Benefit Exchange. During the health insurance enrollment process, residents will be asked, “Would you like to be added to the Donate Life Registry?”

NewYork-Presbyterian performs living donor kidney and liver transplants at both its Weill Cornell Medical Center and Columbia University Irving Medical Center campuses.

To learn more, please visit:

Organ Transplantation at NewYork-Presbyterian

The NewYork-Presbyterian organ transplantation program — which includes NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center and The Rogosin Institute — is the most active program of its kind in the nation, offering comprehensive and personalized care for the heart, liver, pancreas, kidney and lung. With outcomes ranked among the nation’s best, the Hospital is dedicated to improving quality of life for its patients. NewYork-Presbyterian’s dedicated teams of surgeons and physicians are responsible for many significant advances made over the past several decades in transplant surgery and the maintenance of healthy organs. The Hospital has been at the forefront of developing and improving anti-rejection medications (immunosuppressants), minimally invasive surgery for living donors, genetic methods to detect transplant rejection, strategies to increase opportunities for donor matching, and the FDA-approved left ventricle assist device (LVAD), which functions as a bridge to transplantation for those who are waiting for a new heart.


NewYork-Presbyterian is one of the nation’s most comprehensive, integrated academic healthcare delivery systems, whose organizations are dedicated to providing the highest quality, most compassionate care and service to patients in the New York metropolitan area, nationally, and throughout the globe. In collaboration with two renowned medical schools, Weill Cornell Medicine and Columbia University Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian is consistently recognized as a leader in medical education, groundbreaking research and innovative, patient-centered clinical care.

NewYork-Presbyterian has four major divisions:

  • NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital is ranked #1 in the New York metropolitan area by U.S. News and World Report and repeatedly named to the Honor Roll of “America’s Best Hospitals.”
  • NewYork-Presbyterian Regional Hospital Network comprises hospitals and other facilities in the New York metropolitan region.
  • NewYork-Presbyterian Physician Services, which connects medical experts with patients in their communities.
  • NewYork-Presbyterian Community and Population Health, encompassing ambulatory care network sites and community healthcare initiatives, including NewYork Quality Care, the Accountable Care Organization jointly established by NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, Weill Cornell Medicine and Columbia.

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