Howard M. Nathan: Survey highlights serious gap between support for organ donation and those who register

THE MORNING CALL | Howard M Nathan

The holidays are here and Pennsylvanians are embracing a renewed sense of giving. However, a recent survey found that many people are reluctant to think about the greatest gift of all: the gift of life.

Donate Life PA commissioned a poll to understand the hesitation about organ donation. We asked 400 Pennsylvania adults who are currently not registered organ donors: "If you were sick or injured and needed an organ or tissue transplant, would you accept the donation?"

Eighty-two percent of people not registered as donors said they would accept an organ transplant if they were sick or injured and needed one.

Yet, despite the willingness of survey participants to receive a donation, only 46 percent of eligible Pennsylvanians are registered as organ and tissue donors.

The poll revealed some familiar misconceptions. Twenty-one percent of respondents said that they were too old or unhealthy to register. One man from Lehigh County told us he wasn't a registered donor "because I haven't taken great care of myself. My organs wouldn't be of much help to anyone."

The fact is that anyone can register to be an organ donor — regardless of age or health. The oldest organ donor ever was 90 years old. Organs and tissues are carefully screened for diseases before transplant. Don't let your age or current health prevent you from registering. Continue reading