How Do Americans View Organ Donation?
    By News Staff | April 5th 2010 12:00 AM | 12 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    43 percent of people are undecided, reluctant or do not wish to have their organs and tissue donated after their deaths, according to a new survey conducted by Donate Life America.

    The results shows an increase in the number of people willing to donate compared to a survey conducted last year, but also suggest that a lot of misinformation still surrounds the issue.

    Among respondents who report being registered donors, the reason provided by more than half (53 percent) is to help others in need. For the undecided, reluctant or those who do not wish to have their organs and tissue donated, the most common reasons were not being sure they'd be acceptable donors (19 percent), haven't decided (15 percent) and want to keep their organs and be buried whole (8 percent).

    The online survey of 5,100 U.S. adults also uncovered some pervasive myths regarding donation. For example, the majority (52 percent) of respondents were open to the idea that doctors may not try as hard to save their lives if their wish to be organ donors is known, and 61 percent are open to the idea that it is possible for a brain dead person to recover from his or her injuries. In addition, 8 percent believe that organ or tissue donation is against their religion.

    According to Donate Life, the statistics illustrate a critical need to continue to increase the level of support for organ donation to save the lives of the more than 105,000 adults and children on the transplant waiting list in the U.S., an average 18 of whom die each day waiting.

    "It's important for people to know the facts," says David Fleming, president and CEO, Donate Life America. "For health professionals, the number one priority is always to save the lives of their patients, and only after death is organ and tissue donation considered. While you can recover from comas, brain death is permanent, irreparable. And, there are no known religions in the U.S. with a position against donation; rather, all major religions support organ donation as one of the highest expressions of compassion and generosity."

    The survey also found that 78 percent of adults correctly believe there are more people who need organ transplants in the U.S. than the number of donated organs available. 61 percent would donate the organs or tissue of a family member if they died suddenly without indicating their wishes.  The number of African Americans who wish to donate all their organs and tissue has increased to 41 percent versus 31 percent in 2009 – encouraging news as African Americans comprise nearly 35 percent of the national kidney transplant waiting list. Most adults (61 percent) believe TV shows and movies have a public responsibility to portray organ and tissue donation and transplantation in an accurate way.

    Past research has found that the mass media may be partly to blame for misperceptions about organ donation. However, the survey points to a possible positive effect from the recently cancelled TV drama "Three Rivers," a medical show that aired on CBS during the fall 2009 season and featured organ transplants through three points of view: the doctors, the donors and the recipients.

    Twelve percent of survey respondents had watched at least one episode, and of these, 58 percent said it made them feel more positive toward organ or tissue donation while only 2 percent said it made them feel more negative.

    "That means the show led nearly 7 percent of Americans to feel more positive toward donation. And, the survey showed a 6 percent overall increase over the past year in the number of people interested in being donors, so there may be a correlation," said Fleming.


    Just about every single one of the 43% of Americans who aren't willing to register as organ donors would accept an organ transplant if they needed one to live. As long as we let non-donors jump to the front of the waiting list when they need transplants we'll always have an organ shortage.

    There is a simple way to put a big dent in the organ shortage -- allocate donated organs first to people who have agreed to donate their own organs. UNOS, which manages the national organ allocation system, has the power to make this simple policy change. No legislative action is required.

    Americans who want to donate their organs to other registered organ donors don't have to wait for UNOS to act. They can join LifeSharers, a non-profit network of organ donors who agree to offer their organs first to other organ donors when they die. Membership is free at or by calling 1-888-ORGAN88. There is no age limit, parents can enroll their minor children, and no one is excluded due to any pre-existing medical condition.

    Giving organs first to organ donors will save more lives by convincing more people to register as organ donors. It will also make the organ allocation system fairer. People who aren't willing to share the gift of life should go to the back of the waiting list as long as there is a shortage of organs.

    I don't think the plan should be to force anyone into donating their organs. Everyone should be entitled to the right to have complete or maximum control over their own bodies. Discriminating against patients who aren't in the donor registry is just flat out wrong, it negates some of the reason Americans feel they want to donate, and pushing anyone to the back of the line behind candidates who might be less likely to care for the new organ is an unwarranted death sentence. While I can sympathize with the idea to formulate a plan to alleviate the shortage, to practically force those on the fence to donate is to take away their right to choose what is done to their own bodies.

    Personally and independently of the shortage problem, I would never, as a donor, seek to exclude a potential receiver on the simple basis that they are not a donor as well.

    No one is forcing anyone to do anything. LifeSharers encourages people to register as organ donors, by rewarding that potentially life-saving action.

    Why should we give organs to people who aren't willing to donate their own organs? If there were enough organs to go around, it wouldn't matter. But if you're prepared to bury or cremate your organs rather than donate them, why should you get an organ that a registered organ donor needs?

    Please join LifeSharers at

    Gerhard Adam
    For the same reason you get a blood transfusion even if you don't donate blood.  Trust me, you don't want to get into creating arbitrary lines of division because there's a lot more than something this simple.

    More importantly, are you going to be the one to tell a thirteen year old kid that they go to the back of the line because their parents won't agree to allow organ donation?  It's a foolish idea.
    Mundus vult decipi

    The blood analogy is weak. There aren't 106,000 people in the United States waiting for blood transfusions. We don't have over 9,000 people dying every year waiting for blood transfusions. If someone needs a blood transfusion they can pay for it, but if you need an organ transplant you need a donated organ.

    Giving organs first to organ donors isn't a foolish idea. To see some of the people who think it's a good idea, go to

    Putting organ donors first will save lives by increasing the number of donors. Shouldn't saving more lives be the primary goal of our transplant system?

    Gerhard Adam
    It's coercion, plain and simple.  That kind of logic invariably involves arguing that some people are more deserving than others.  There's no skirting around that conclusion.  Whether it be because of money, or because of being organ donors, the net result is the same.

    The problem is that such policing is being forced on those that may not feel the same way, i.e. the doctors.  They will be put in the position of telling someone that they're not entitled to an organ because somebody or some group determined that they weren't as worthy as someone else because they weren't donors.

    There's no way to dress it up, because that's what the end result is.  In my view this is little more than rationalizing that the ends justify the means.  Never a strong philosophical position in my book.
    Mundus vult decipi

    As for coercion, do you advocate that organ donors be coerced into donating to whoever the transplant establishment says they should donate to? Or should organ donors have the right to decide who gets their organs? Federal law and the laws of all 50 states protect donors' rights to determine who gets their organs.

    Gerhard Adam
    Then what's the problem?  There's no coercion if their rights are protected. 
    Mundus vult decipi

    There's no coercion involved with LifeSharers. You can join or not. It's up to you.

    No one is entitled to an organ transplant. Everyone deserves an organ transplant. But most people die before they get one because too many people bury or cremate organs that could have saved them.

    We don't think anyone is more worthy than anyone else. We're creating an incentive that will increase supply and save lives. Doesn't that end justify the means involved here?

    Gerhard Adam
    We're not talking about joining LifeSharers, I'm talking about the coercion involved in denying people access to organs based on whether they are donors or not.  By placing them at the back of the line, you're granting preferential treatment based on whether someone is a donor or not.  I don't know how many ways you can say it, but it's coercion and it most certainly suggests that one class of people is more worthy than others to get the organ.  You call it an "incentive", but it's really a coercive means of trying to force people to donate.  Why not call it what it is?  Tell people that unless they donate, they will not be eligible for organs if a donor is also eligible.  Tell them that as long as there are donors, your position is that you would rather have them die than a donor. 

    The ends do not justify the means.  Following your line of reasoning what's to stop someone from suggesting that smokers are less deserving of lung transplants than a non-smoker.  After all, the smoker abused their lungs, so we can rationalize how the non-smoker should be made a priority.  

    In the end you're attempting to force a particular behavior and I'm as opposed to LifeSharers doing it as I am the government.

    Mundus vult decipi
    my purpose of posting on this ad is to ask you to help me get any person who is in need of a kidney, why i want to have my kidney donated is because i need funds to further my education into college. Please do not fail to contact me if there is anyone who is in need of a kidney or blood.
    here are my contact details


    I agree with organ donations.