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Spartan Nurse Perspectives: Myth-busting organ donation


By Mariah Foster DNP, RN, AGCNS-BC

April is recognized as National Donate Life Month. Choosing to become an organ donor is an individual choice that can have an invaluable, lasting impact on many.

According to the Society of Transplantation, over 100,000 people are currently waiting for a life-saving organ and as many as 17 people die each day waiting for an organ transplant. Sadly, up to 50% of all organ transplants will fail and that person could require that same organ within five to ten years of transplant, as stated by the Society of Transplantation. One organ and tissue donor has the potential to save as many as eight lives and improve up to 75 lives.

According to the Michigan Department of State, anyone can register to be an organ donor, but if the person is a minor their parents would have the final decision until the age of 18. If a person is an organ donor, a medical professional would determine which organs would be able to be transplanted to others after death.

One question that people often have is, can I be an organ donor if I have existing health condition, such as diabetes, HIV, or cancer? The answer is “yes,” according to Gift of Life Michigan, which says anyone can potentially be an organ donor. There is a specific process that occurs at the time of death, which involves review of medical criteria to identify if and what organs or tissues can be donated to save a life.

Additionally, age does not impact whether you can be a potential organ donor. In fact, Gift of Life Michigan states that the oldest organ donor to date was 92 years old. Another question that is often asked is, can I or my loved one still have an open casket if organ or tissue donation occurs? Again, the answer is yes. Gift of Life Michigan ensures that each donor receives the utmost respect, and that the donation process does not interfere with an open casket viewing. Furthermore, Gift of Life Michigan covers the cost of donation so there is no cost burden to the deceased or their family.