10 Kidney Donation Myths

Thinking of donating a kidney? Perhaps you are looking at dialysis vs transplant? Check out 10 Common Kidney Donation Myths today.

You Can’t Live A Normal Life With One Kidney

Most people assume going from 2 perfectly-functioning kidneys to 1 is bad for a person’s health. This can dissuade a person from donating a kidney.


However, kidney donors go on to live completely normal lives and medical complications have become very rare (about 1 in 1,000 surgeries). One kidney by itself is able to do the job of two kidneys. After surgery, the kidney donor will continue living a normal life with the same diet, activities, etc.

You Need Health Insurance To Donate A Kidney

In today’s America, health insurance is a major part of any life decision we make. Many people who would like to donate decide against it because they don’t have insurance or out of fear they will lose their insurance.


Due to efforts by the federal government’s transplant watchdog group (UNOS) and the 2010 Affordable Care Act, any person willing to donate a kidney will have the testing, surgery, hospitalization, and immediate aftercare paid for by the recipient’s insurance. The 2010 ACA also protects patients from being penalized or losing their insurance due to their life-saving act.

You Can Buy Or Sell An Organ

Any dialysis or transplant patient will tell you the thought of trying to buy a kidney has crossed their mind. In fact, some of us, including the author of this article, has been offered a kidney…for a price.


To be clear, buying or selling an organ is 100% illegal in the United States. If caught, a kidney patient can be kicked off the transplant list.


For possible donors, there are many foundations that can help with paying for transportation, lodging, and lost-wages during your testing and time spent at the hospital for the surgery.

It’s Against My Religion

This is a common belief that, thankfully, many religions try to dispel.


All major religions support organ & tissue donation and consider it the ultimate form of charity. This includes:






-Amish, and many more.


If you are considering organ donation and need spiritual advice, always feel free to communicate with your Church, Synagogue, Mosque, etc. This is a very important choice to make in life and you should always feel comfortable with it.

I’m Too Old Or Too Sick To Donate

Sadly it is possible to be too old or sick to receive a kidney transplant. Only 100,000 people sit on the waitlist while over 500,000 patients with End-Stage Kidney/Renal Failure undergo dialysis.


However, there is no age limit on the donation of organs and most health issues are non-issues in regards to the transplant process. Even more serious medical conditions, such as cancer or hepatitis, are not automatic denials. As long as the donor has normal kidney function and the transplant won’t affect their quality of life or worsen their health, they can donate.

The LGBTQ Community Cannot Donate A Kidney

Anyone can donate an organ, regardless of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.


Sadly this myth has grown due to stone-age era rules regarding the sexuality of people who donate blood.


Thankfully this is not the case for kidney donation. Such things are never considered as part of the donor process.

Kidney Donation Is Easy, Just Like On TV

In episodes of House or Grey’s Anatomy, a kidney transplant is depicted as a simple procedure. Something that can happen within a few hours and requires little testing or follow-up.


Realistically, a donor requires months of testing before a surgery can be scheduled. No shortcuts will be taken and everything is done slowly and thoroughly to protect the health of everyone involved.


Non-TV doctors also don’t deal with the same tantalizing drama and intense action as those on House…which is probably a good thing.

Being An Organ Donor Affects My Future Medical Care

It is a widely held belief that a patient will receive sub-optimal care if they become an organ donor.


“First do no harm”. That is an integral line in the Hippocratic Corpus, written thousands of years ago to help guide future generations of physicians. Whether a person is having their appendix removed or donating a kidney, this holds true. Hospitals and medical professionals have one aim: to save your life.

The Recipient Will Know Who I Am

An altruistic donor is someone who donates their kidney to a complete stranger who is their closest blood match currently sitting on the waitlist. This is very rare compared to donations from family members or friends. However, people who give this amazing gift often have one request…to meet their recipient.


Unfortunately, most hospitals and transplant programs will not give out donor and recipient names, let alone introduce them. This is mainly due to privacy concerns and HIPPA laws.

Only Family Members Can Donate A Kidney

Anyone, whether they are family, friends, or a stranger you met in an Uber, can become a kidney donor.


Formerly, hospitals would only allow family members to donate a kidney. As kidney donation became more common and less dangerous, this rule was adopted nationwide.


However, with kidney donations dropping and advances in medicine, this rule has been changed.


This has become especially more important as people donating to family members has dropped by almost 50% since the year 2000.


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