Hospitals don’t get paid for selling organs and other myths busted

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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) - Even in this day and age, doctors are still fighting with a lot of wives' tales, myths, and urban legends when it comes to organ donations.

And no one knows that more than the Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency.

Turns out, a lot of people are afraid of putting that little heart on their driver's license  because they think first responders will let them die after an accident just to get their organs.

"That couldn't be further from the truth,” said Kirsten Heintz, LOPA’s Director of Public Relations and Education. “In order to become an organ donor, you have to be in a hospital and you have to be on a ventilator. So, someone could argue that they would try even harder to save you because your organs have to be functioning.”

FALSE: First responders will let you die to get your organs

And hospitals are not in the business of letting you die to make money.

Dr. Anil Paramesh, the Director of Living Donor Transplant Program at Tulane Institute said, "It's not true that hospital get paid for selling the organs. That is simply untrue. That's not what happens at all."

In fact, organ procurement teams are not involved in patient care whatsoever.

"The organ procurement teams only get involved after you've been declared dead,” said Paramesh. “They can't be involved in the decision of your life or death anywhere."

Another myth that needs busting is that you need to be in perfect health in order to donate.

“A lot of people think that if they have diabetes or hypertension they can't be a donor. That's not the case,” said Heintz. “If that was the case, most of Louisiana couldn't be a donor.”

FALSE: Donor has to be in perfect health

Anyone can be a donor. Even smokers and drug addicts.

"Yes, organs can be used even if they have a history of smoking. Even if they're obese. Even if they have a history of alcohol,” said Paramesh. “Chances are, we may still be able to use these organs.”

FALSE: Smokers and drug addicts can't be donors

"It's such a dire need and such a small opportunity of people," said Heintz. "We really have to look at every potential very closely."