Hesitating to get on organ donor list? Here’s why you shouldn’t wait

1 person can donate up to 8 lifesaving organs

Doctors conducting kidney transplant. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

If someone has ever asked you if you wanted to be an organ donor, was one of the first thoughts you had a vision of yourself in some sort of situation in which the doctors were ready to call time-of-death without following through on every lifesaving effort so that they could provide your viable organs to someone in need?

That’s got to be one of the most common thoughts, right?

Lucky for you, it does not work that way.

In fact, whether you're even an organ donor does not enter into the conversation until all lifesaving measures have been attempted, according to the American Transplant Foundation.

The first priority of a medical professional is to save the lives of those who arrive at the hospital. And those doctors and nurses who were part of care before death are not typically involved in the recovery or transplantation of donated organs.

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Some people may be concerned they'll even still be alive after their death certificate is signed. But to further put your mind at ease, Mayo Clinic says people who have agreed to organ donation will get even more tests to ensure they really are dead.

So why are we even addressing this? Because in the event you are hesitant or scared to put yourself on the organ donor list, we think it’s important information to know. There are a few other important things worth mentioning, too — and they may help you make up your mind that signing up as a donor is absolutely necessary.

1. The number of people who are waiting for an organ donation far exceeds the number of people who are signed up to be donors, and the difference in the numbers is growing.

2. Someone is added to the transplant list every 10 minutes.

3. About 2,000 children under the age of 18 are on the list, awaiting an organ that could save their life.

4. One person can donate up to eight lifesaving organs.

5. On average, 20 people die each day waiting for a transplant.

6. Only three out of 1,000 people die in a way that allows them to donate an organ.

7. People don't seem to want to put their money where their mouth is. While 95 percent of the United States says they support organ donation, only 54 percent are actually signed up to be a donor.

8. About 58 percent of people on the donor list are ethnic minorities.

9. One in nine Americans have kidney disease, and most don’t even know it.

10. Liver and kidney disease kill more than 120,000 people each year — that’s more people than breast cancer, prostate cancer or Alzheimer’s disease.

11. It’s not just main organs that are transplanted. Tissue that includes corneas, skin, veins, heart valves, tendons, ligaments and bones can also be donated. In fact, the cornea is the most common transplanted tissue, according to the American Transplant Foundation.

Doctor conducts cornea transplant. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

12. Age and medical condition don’t matter. Regardless of age or medical history, you can sign up to be a donor.

13. People whose organs have been donated can still typically have an open casket funeral.

14. You can’t have your organs taken if you’re in a coma. Majority of deceased organ donors are people who have already been declared brain dead.

These are some heavy facts to swallow, but they are important. If you're still hesitant, educate yourself even more.

Learn everything there is to know and then when you're ready, it's as simple as signing up online within just a couple minutes.

[Click here to learn more. | Click here to sign up to be a donor.]