Public Release: 

While majority of Americans express interest in organ and tissue donation, few register

Survey reveals misperceptions about donation are common

GolinHarris International

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Credit: Donate Life America

RICHMOND, Va. (April 13, 2009) - While the number of Americans registered as organ and tissue donors is rising, the registry still only includes 38 percent of licensed drivers, according to a report card issued by Donate Life America this year. Yet, according to a new survey of Americans, 72 percent of people want their decision to donate honored, even if their family disagrees.

"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," said Donate Life America Chair Sara Pace Jones. "It is more important than ever for those who support donation to legally document those wishes - and registering through the DMV or state donor registries are the most important ways to do that. Anyone can find out how to register in their state by visiting www.donatelife.net or www.facebook.com/donatelife."

The online survey of 5,100 U.S. adults - supported by Astellas Pharma US, Inc. - uncovered some misperceptions and confusion about organ donation and registration. Among them:

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

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

  • Just under half (44 percent) mistakenly think that in the U.S. there is a black market in which people can buy or sell organs or tissue.

  • Only 43 percent of respondents understand 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.

To help spread the word about the importance of organ donation registration, Donate Life America is celebrating National Donate Life Month in April with numerous local and national educational programs and several new initiatives, including the launch of the official Donate Life America Facebook fan page, www.facebook.com/donatelife. The page makes it easy for users to register as donors in their states and share messages in support of organ and tissue donation. It also features monthly polls; posts from celebrities, recipients, donors and donor families encouraging donor registration; and listings of resources and upcoming events.

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About the Survey

The survey was fielded through Survey Sampling International, one of the largest providers of online panels in the U.S., during February 2009 on behalf of Donate Life America. The online survey of 5,100 U.S. adults included a sample size of 100 in each state plus the District of Columbia. The aggregated nationwide data was weighted to reflect the relative proportion of the U.S. adult population in each state. The sample was controlled to match the U.S. population as a whole on age, gender, education, income and ethnicity.

About Donate Life America

Donate Life America is a non-for-profit alliance of national organizations and state teams across the United States, serving as a national voice and inspiring all people to save enhance lives through organ, eye and tissue donation. For more information, visit www.donatelife.net.

About Astellas

Astellas is a recognized leader in transplantation and has been committed to the field of immunology for more than 20 years. Dedicated to supporting the advancement of care for patients, Astellas continues to build upon its legacy and leadership in transplantation by investing in ongoing clinical research and new product development.

Astellas Pharma US, Inc., located in Deerfield, Illinois, is a US affiliate of Tokyo-based Astellas Pharma Inc. Astellas is a pharmaceutical company dedicated to improving the health of people around the world through the provision of innovative and reliable pharmaceutical products. The organization is committed to becoming a global category leader in focused areas by combining outstanding R&D and marketing capabilities. In the US, Astellas markets products in the areas of Immunology, Urology, Anti-Infectives, Cardiovascular and Dermatology. For more information about Astellas Pharma US, Inc., please visit our Web site at www.astellastransplant.com.

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