Myths and Facts

Let’s be honest: the thought of a loved one being cut open and having their organs removed is uncomfortable. To many, the idea of organ donation itself feels strange, and the proliferation of conspiracy theories and urban legends surrounding organ donation don’t help, either. So if organ and tissue donation gives you pause or conjures images of hotel bath tubs full of ice, let us set the record straight.

“Do paramedics or other medical professionals allow someone to die so they can take that person’s organs?”

Absolutely not. Every attempt is made to save the life of a donor. Usually, donor patients have suffered a traumatic brain injury and brain death. After ALL life-saving efforts have been exhausted, the patient remains on a ventilator to keep the organs functioning.

Patients with potentially fatal brain injuries receive the most aggressive care available. However, if it becomes clear that the patient will not survive, MORA can search for his or her name in the Mississippi Donor Registry. If the patient has NOT registered as a donor, a donation counselor will inform the family about donation and allow them to make donation decisions for the patient.

This is a great advantage in making a decision to join the Mississippi Donor Registry – to avoid leaving your family with a difficult decision at a traumatic time.

Can my organs, tissues, or eyes be sold?

Absolutely not. Buying and selling organs, tissues and eyes for the purpose of transplantation is illegal in the United States, in accordance with the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act of 1984. These regulations impose heavy fines and imprisonment on violators, and prevent any type of “black market” for organs, eyes and tissue in the United States.
In fact, any idea of a “black market” for organs and tissue is a medical impossibility. Only hospitals and Organ Procurement Organizations have the capability to effectively match organs to recipients and distribute them according to national policy established by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS).

Conversely, for the donor’s family, there is no charge to carry out an organ or tissue donation, nor will they receive any sort of payment for organ or tissue donation. All costs associated with donation will be assumed by MORA. These costs are then reimbursed by transplant centers (which, in turn, bill private and public insurance plans) and by Medicare in the case of kidney transplants.

Is donation going to ruin my body for the funeral?

Absolutely not. A patient’s body is treated with the utmost respect and dignity throughout the donation process. In the vast majority of instances, the donor’s appearance following donation still allows for an open-casket funeral. In fact, less cutting is done on a full tissue donor than in the average autopsy.

The entire donation process is usually completed within 24 to 36 hours, at which point the body is released to the donor’s family or, if legally required, first to the local medical examiner’s office. From there, the family may proceed with funeral arrangements.

What if my religious beliefs prohibit me from donating?

While MORA is not religiously affiliated, we take our cause as a serious moral mission. The fact is, no major denominations or religions prohibit organ donation. Even Jehovah’s Witnesses, who prohibit blood transfusions, allow for organ donations when the organs have been drained of the donor’s blood.

Many people hearing about organ donation for the first time tend to hesitate because they feel they will lack their donated organs – particularly eyes – in the afterlife. From a Christian perspective, in the book of Revelation, God promises to make everything new. Furthermore, if human beings are fearfully and wonderfully made, isn’t it kind of a shame to throw that away? If the last thing a person does with their life is express love, what better way to live out a spiritual existence?

When we talk about life after death, most of the time we’re talking about heaven. But organ donation is, in its own way, life after death.