Myth busting around Organ Donation


More than 4500 people in South Africa are waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant. Many of these people will not have the opportunity to receive an organ from a donor due to a lack of donor referrals. Being an organ donor is giving a generous, selfless gift that can save lives. Many people who are reticent about Organ Donation have been misinformed or heard myths and concerns expressed by others.  If this is the reason you have not registered as an organ donor please refer to the Myth Busters and Frequently Asked Questions below.

1. Will doctors work hard to save my life if I agree to donate my organs?

Yes, doctors focus on saving your life — not somebody else’s. Organ donation is secondary to saving your life.


2. Will they make sure I’m dead before they remove my organs?

Two doctors independent of the transplant team give people who have agreed to donate their organs and/or tissue internationally recognized tests to make sure they’re really brain stem dead.


3. Organ donation is against my religion.

Most religions are in agreement with Organ donation. If you are unsure of with your faith’s position on donation is, please clarify this with your religious leader or teacher.


4. Can people under 18 donate their organs?

In South Africa the next of kin makes the final decision on whether to donate their minor loved ones organs or not.  If you as a child feel strongly about this tell your parents you want to donate your organs after your death. They can then give their consent knowing that it’s what you wanted. Very often children are also in need of life saving transplants and will need organs smaller than those an adult can provide.


5. Will donation leave my body disfigured?

The greatest of care and respect is taken when removing the organs and tissue from the donor body. Specialist healthcare professionals will make sure you are treated with dignity. The body is returned to the family in such a manner that arrangements made for viewing the body after donation are the same as after death.


6. Can older people donate their organs and/or tissue?

There’s no age limit for the donation of organs or tissue. Healthcare professional make the decisions to use your organs and/or tissue based on strict medical criteria, not age. If you make the decision to be on organ donor the doctors will decide when you die whether your organs and tissues are suitable for transplants.


7. Can I donate my organs or tissues if I have a medical condition?

Some conditions may disqualify you from donating now but Medical science is advancing at an alarming rate so it is best to allow the doctors to decide when you die whether your organs and tissues are suitable for transplants.


8. Does it cost me anything to become an organ donor?

No it does not.  It does not cost you to register as an organ donor NOR does it cost your family/estate anything once the legal documents allowing for organ retrieval have been signed by your next of kin.


9. People can buy and sell organs – NO!

This is simply not true. The transplant law in the South Africa forbids selling human organs or tissue. There is no doubt that this does occur in the world we live in but the strict laws in South Africa prohibit this.