While more and more Canadians are registering for organ donation, there are some who still have reservations. That's why it's important to clear up some myths to help you make an informed choice. We've asked Dr. Dave Hepburn, a veteran surgeon from Victoria, BC, to help answer some frequently asked questions. In addition to his medical practice, he is a published author, a co-host of a national radio program, and an award-winning columnist in both the United States and Canada.
Is there an age limit to donate my organs?
Actually, no. There is no defined cut-off age for donating organs. Organs have been successfully transplanted from donors in their 70s and 80s. The decision to use your organs is based on strict medical criteria, not how old you are.
Is organ donation against my religion?
Organ donation is consistent with the beliefs of most religions. This includes Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam, and most branches of Judaism.
If I agree to donate my organs, will the hospital staff work as hard to save my life?
As doctors, we will do everything we can to save your life. Period. Saving lives is what we are all about. In fact, we never know if you are a donor or not when you arrive.
Is there a chance I won't really be dead when they sign my death certificate?
Rest assured that people who have agreed to organ donation are given more tests to determine that they're truly dead than are those who haven't agreed to organ donation.
If I donate an organ or tissue, is an open-casket funeral out of the picture?
As morbid as it might be to think about, organ and tissue donation doesn't interfere with having an open-casket funeral. Because the donor is clothed and lying on their back in the casket, your loved ones won't be able to notice any difference.
Is it true they can use baboon or pig hearts?
No. There is nobody running about with a baboon heart beating in their chest.
I'm not in the best of health. Can I still donate my organs or tissues?
Don't worry. It's still important for you to sign your donor card. The decision to use an organ is based on strict medical criteria. So leave it to the medical professionals to make that decision. After all, it's what we do best.