How Much Do You Really Know about Organ Donation? Top 11 Facts About Donation

Top 11 Facts about Becoming an Organ Donor

Apr 9, 2014


Every year, thousands of Americans die waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant because there just aren't enough organ donors.

Only 21 percent of New Yorkers are registered organ donors, compared with 45 percent nationally. There are many myths and misconceptions about organ donation that prevent people from becoming donors.

Top 11 facts about becoming an organ donor:

  • Very few medical conditions disqualify you from donating organs and tissues. It may turn out that while certain organs are not suitable for transplant, other organs and tissues are fine.
  • It is possible to donate to someone who is not a relative and to someone from another racial or ethnic group.
  • There are no costs directly related to donation.
  • Although it is important to join a donor registry and indicate that you are an organ donor on your driver's license, it is equally important to make your family, friends, and doctors aware of your wishes.
  • Most major religions publicly endorse organ donation as the highest gesture of humanitarianism, including Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam, and most branches of Judaism.
  • Organs have been transplanted from donors in their 70s and 80s, and even 92-year-olds have donated their livers in the United States.
  • The medical professionals caring for a patient do everything possible to save the patient's life and have nothing to do with transplant and organ donation. Once a patient becomes a potential organ donor, a separate team will discuss this option with the caregivers.
  • 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.
  • Donating an organ will in no way delay funeral arrangements or change any funeral plans. Open-casket viewing is possible after any type of donation.
  • Transplant success rates increase when organs are matched between members of the same ethnic background.
  • In New York there are three ways to become an organ donor: you can check off the donor box on your driver's license application or renewal form, register online at, or sign up when you register to vote.

Organ Transplantation at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital

The organ transplantation program at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital — which includes NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia 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 on 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, islet cell transplantation 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 Hospital

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, based in New York City, is one of the nation's largest and most comprehensive hospitals, with some 2,600 beds. In 2012, the Hospital had nearly 2 million inpatient and outpatient visits, including 12,758 deliveries and 275,592 visits to its emergency departments. NewYork-Presbyterian's 6,144 affiliated physicians and 20,154 staff provide state-of-the-art inpatient, ambulatory and preventive care in all areas of medicine at six major centers: NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital, NewYork-Presbyterian/The Allen Hospital, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Westchester Division and NewYork-Presbyterian/Lower Manhattan Hospital. One of the most comprehensive health care institutions in the world, the Hospital is committed to excellence in patient care, research, education and community service. NewYork-Presbyterian is the #1 hospital in the New York metropolitan area and is consistently ranked among the best academic medical institutions in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report. The Hospital has academic affiliations with two of the nation's leading medical colleges: Weill Cornell Medical College and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

New York Organ Donor Network

Founded in 1978, the New York Organ Donor Network is the second largest of the nation's 58 nonprofit, federally designated organ procurement organizations (OPOs). The New York Organ Donor Network is responsible for the recovery of organs, eyes and tissues for transplantation, and public and professional education efforts in the greater New York metropolitan area. It serves a highly diverse population in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Staten Island, Long Island, Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Westchester and Pike County, PA. The Donor Network partners with 10 transplant centers, more than 90 hospitals, as well as several eye and tissue banks. By law, hospitals are required to notify the Donor Network of all in-hospital deaths or imminent deaths. The agency has highly trained staff whose primary role is to ensure that families carry out the legally binding consent decisions of their loved ones to be donors. When there is no prior legal documentation of consent, the Donor Network seeks authorization for donation from the legal next of kin. The agency works closely with hospital personnel to recover suitable organs, eyes and tissues, and it also offers follow-up care and referrals to all donor families. Organs recovered for transplant are hearts, kidneys, livers, lungs, pancreas, and intestines. Also recovered are whole eyes or corneas and the following tissues: heart valves, cardiovascular tissue, bone and soft musculoskeletal tissue, and skin. The New York Organ Donor Network is fully accredited by the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations (AOPO). It is a member of the United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS).

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