The Ultimate Gift: 5 things to know about organ donation

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NEW HAVEN -

As medical technology continues to advance, more patients at Yale-New Haven Hospital are getting a second chance at life through organ donation.

Dr. Sanjay Kulkarni runs the Yale-New Haven Health Center for Living Organ Donors, helping many through transplant surgery.

But Kulkarni says there is a lot of misinformation surrounding donating an organ that he hopes to clear up.

One common myth is that donors suffer more than recipients do, but thanks to new methods that is not true.

"Now we do it total laparoscopically," says Kulkarni. "We do the operation through three or four small incisions. That affords donors a lot less pain and a quicker recovery time."

Kulkarni says some think a person cannot become pregnant later in life after donating an organ -- this is also untrue.

A different misnomer that Kulkarni wishes were true involves the existence of 3D-printed livers and other organs. He says scientists are years away from being able to make layers of cells needed to grow organs from scratch, so that is not an option.

One thing Kulkarni wants potential lifesavers to know is that if you donate an organ and then need one later on in life, you are put to the top of the waiting list.

But what he wants people to know most is how transplants really do offer a new lease on life.

"These really are lifesaving and life-lengthening procedures," says Kulkarni. "Their longevity matches what it would have been if they never required a transplant."

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