The Myths and Facts About Pediatric Organ Donation
Survey Shows Some Parents Resistant to Child Organ Donation
The 2018 C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health at the University of Michigan found that misconceptions may be hindering child organ and tissue donations. The poll of over 2,000 parents of minor children found that many myths about organ donation exist, particularly donations from and for children, keeping some parents from considering this life-saving gift.
A high number of parents polled, 52 percent, stated that they were not interested in learning more about organ donation, and only 17 percent of parents of children newborn to 14 years of age said they would be interested in learning more. Parents of children over 14 were shown to be much more likely to share information about organ donation. By not being
open to learn more, many parents are missing out on understanding the great need for organ donors, especially the need for infant and small child organs that need to meet size limitations to save a child’s life.
Often, people see movies, read novels, blogs, and other internet/tv media that continue to feed myths about organ donation, especially organ donation for children. These movies, books, and blogs are often works of fiction or opinions not based on facts that fail to show the real stories of those who work in organ transplantation every day, the families who choose to donate, and the sick children who are the recipients of the donations.
Know the Facts About Organ Donation
Many detailed studies spanning 25 years of research have shown that opinions about organ donation may not always be supported by the facts. It is understandable that people become skeptical and defensive when discussing the biggest topic parents never want to think about, the loss of their child.
The studies highlight common myths. Here are the facts about what really happens:
Discuss Deceased Donation as Part of Your Family's Healthcare
Understanding the facts about organ donations can help open family conversations about being potential donors. Parents who register as organ donors can talk to their children about why it is important to be an organ donor and gain an understanding of how their child feels. In many states, if a child dies before the age of 18, the parents must make the donation decision.
Older children and adults have the potential to be a match for some organ transplants, but often very small children to receive donations from other small children for organs such as a heart.
The most recent pediatric donor data from the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network shows that 1,766 children ranging from newborn to 17 years of age received organ transplants in the United States in 2020; most were ages 11 to 17. Of the 860 pediatric donors, 121 were babies under the age of 12 months.
This is meaningful because the size of the child’s body and the size of the organ are considered when matching donors to recipients. But, this is most significant because it means that the parents of 934 children chose to save other children’s lives while grieving the loss of their own children. Giving the gift of life to a child who will die without receiving a transplant can help comfort parents of donors when these difficult decisions need to be made. And, when they choose to donate, they keep love alive.
Share the facts and start the discussion today as part of your family's healthcare decisions. Let's keep love alive not myths!