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Busting the Myths: Top 10 Reasons to Become an Organ Donor

headshot of multiple donors

On any given day, thousands of patients are waiting for critical organ transplants across the United States. But the fact is that there are just not enough donors to cover the demand, so thousands of Americans die each year waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant.

One person donating their vital organs and tissue can save the lives of as many as eight other people — and make a difference in the lives of many more. Yet in New York, only 21 percent of residents are registered organ donors, compared to 45 percent nationally.

April is National Organ Donor Month, and with these basic facts, the hope is that more New Yorkers will rise to the call and register — in an ultimate display of paying it forward.

Top 10 facts about organ donation

  • 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.
  • 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. Adults of all ages can donate.
  • You can donate to someone who is not a relative and to someone from another racial or ethnic group — if you prove to be a match.
  • Transplant success rates increase when organs are matched between members of the same ethnic background.
  • There are no costs directly related to donation.
  • Most major religions publicly endorse organ donation as the highest gesture of humanitarianism, including Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam, and most branches of Judaism.
  • 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.
  • Some organs — a kidney or part of the liver, lungs, pancreas and intestine — and tissues can be donated while the donor is alive.
  • 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.
  • 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 www.donatelifeny.org, or sign up when you register to vote.

To find out how you can become a registered organ donor in New York State, visit LiveOnNY. To learn more about organ transplantation, visit nyp.org/transplant or call 877-697-9355 to find a physician.