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Survey Shows Many Want to Donate Organs, But Few Do

Boosting registration critical to solving shortages, experts say

THURSDAY, April 16 (HealthDay News) -- Most Americans say they want to donate their organs, but only 38 percent of licensed drivers are registered to do so, a new survey shows.

Nearly 72 percent of Americans said they wanted to donate their organs after death, even if their family disagrees, according to an online survey of 5,100 U.S. adults conducted in February by Astellas Pharma US and Donate Life America.

That's far more than those who have actually registered through the DMV or state donor registries, said Donate Life America Chair Sara Pace Jones.

"The number of people awaiting organ transplants has climbed to more than 100,000, and an average of 18 people die each day waiting for available organs," Pace Jones said. "It is more important than ever for those who support donation to legally document those wishes."

The survey also found misperceptions and confusion about organ donation and registration.

Nearly a quarter (23 percent) of people who say they are undecided, reluctant or do not wish to donate were not sure they would be an acceptable donor. Often, age or health conditions do not prevent people from being potential donors. Donation screening only occurs before organs and tissue are recovered for transplant.

Only half (50 percent) of respondents believed that doctors will try as hard to save their life if they know of their wish to be an organ donor.

Just under half (44 percent) mistakenly thought that in the United States there is a black market in which people can buy or sell organs or tissue.

Only 43 percent of respondents understood that it is impossible for a brain-dead person to recover from his or her injuries.

"There is a real crisis taking place with regards to organ availability in this country, and dispelling commonly held misperceptions and increasing the public's trust of the donation and transplant system is paramount when it comes to solving it," said Pace Jones.

More information

For more on organ donation and registering, visit U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

--Jennifer Thomas

SOURCE: Donate Life America, news release, April 13, 2009

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