Have you heard the common myths about organ donation, such as famous or wealthy people get transplants first? Or that emergency room personnel will not try as hard to save you if you are an organ donor?
If these or other misconceptions have made you skeptical of being an organ donor, then you should take the opportunity this month to learn the facts.
A five-student honors course is holding an event to educate the student body about organ donation and to give students a chance to sign and receive a laminated organ donor card.
The tabling event will be held from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Feb. 22 in the Student Breezeway by the Wellness Center.
There will be giveaways, including T-shirts, pens and candy, for students who are willing to get their organ donor card. Dr. Jo Stecher, assistant professor for the School of Nursing, is teaching the course, which focuses on the facts and fiction of organ donation and transplantation.
The course includes a few weeks of introducing facts about organ donation, after which students read popular novels, such as "My Sister's Keeper" by Jodi Picoult and "Your Heart Belongs to Me" by Dean Koontz, which containing fiction about organ donation. Students then critically compare and contrast the facts with the fiction.
"One popular misconception about organ donation is that when your driver's license specifies that you are an organ donor, it is not a legal document; only a declaration of your wishes. It is not legally binding at all. Your next of kin has the right to go against your wishes," Stecher says.
Currently, there are more than 110,000 waiting list candidates for organ transplantation in the country. Between January and November last year, 26,218 transplants took place.
"One very sad thing about organ donation is that the number of donors doesn't change that much from year to year. But the number of candidates waiting for an organ ... that goes up constantly," Stecher says.
Stecher says that one of the common myths of organ donation is that donors cannot have an open casket funeral. Even people who donate their eyes can have false eyes inserted and the eyelids closed so that there would be no visible difference.
In addition, Stecher says that famous or wealthy people are on the same waiting list as everyone else, but that they are sometimes listed under an alias so that people do not know they are awaiting an organ.
She also says that the black market of organ trade does exist, but not in this country. It is also false that all transplant patients who experience rejection lose the organ. There are many ways that doctors can deal with organ rejection; it does not automatically mean that the organ will die.
Vanessa Kirk, a junior majoring in nursing, is taking the course. "A good quote about organ donation is, ‘Don't take your organs to heaven, heaven knows we need them here.' Honestly, what are you going to need your organs for after you die?" she said.