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Organ Donation and Transplant

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Pros and Cons of Organ Donation

When you're considering becoming a living organ donor, think very carefully about these pros and cons:

Pros. Probably the greatest benefit of organ donation is knowing that you're saving a life. That life might be your spouse, child, parent, brother or sister, a close friend, or a very grateful stranger.

Cons. Organ donation is major surgery. All surgery comes with risks such as bleeding, infection, blood clots, allergic reactions, or damage to nearby organs and tissues.

Although you will have anesthesia during the surgery as a living donor, you can have pain while you recover. Pain and discomfort will vary depending on the type of surgery. And you may have visible, lasting scars from surgery.

It will take some time for your body to recover from surgery. You might have to miss work until you're fully healed.

Although the recipient's insurance will cover the costs of the surgery, any medical problems that develop from the transplant in the future won't be covered. Even your own health insurance policy might not cover these complications.

Should You Become an Organ Donor? Making the Decision

As you decide whether to donate an organ as a living donor, weigh the benefits and risks very seriously.

It's important for you to get as much information as you can before making a decision. The transplant center should fully explain the organ donation process to you. You should also be assigned an independent donor advocate who will promote your medical rights.

Make sure you ask a lot of questions throughout this process. It's important for you to fully understand the surgery and how becoming an organ donor might affect your future health.

Finally, remember that this is your decision -- yours alone. Don't let anyone sway that decision. Even if a friend or loved one is very sick, you have to consider how donating an organ might affect your own life. Remember that even though the donation process has started, you have the right to stop it at any time if you change your mind.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Kimball Johnson, MD on September 01, 2012
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