Organs & tissues for transplant

One person can save up to eight lives through organ donation—and they can improve the lives of over a hundred people through tissue donation. Recipients might need a transplanted organ for any number of reasons, from disease to congenital defects to simple wear-and-tear.

The following information will help you understand more about organs and tissue that can be donated:

Organ Donation

Heart

Over 2,600 people are waiting for a heart transplant nationwide. Some conditions that might make a transplant necessary are cardiomyopathy, heart failure, myocarditis, and heart disease. The heart can be preserved outside of the body for 4 to 6 hours before transplant into a recipient. Transplants are blood typed and matched for the size and weight of the donor.

Liver

Some conditions that could make a liver transplant necessary are birth defects of the liver or bile duct, chronic liver infections like hepatitis, or drug and alcohol damage. The liver can be preserved outside of the body for 4 to 16 hours. Transplants are blood typed and matched for the size and weight of donor. A donated liver can sometimes be split between two recipients, so one donor can be the source of two liver transplants.

Pancreas

The pancreas controls the level of glucose in the blood, and it is often transplanted with a kidney because diabetes affects both organs. Conditions that could make a pancreas transplant necessary are diabetes or pancreas failure. The pancreas can be preserved outside of the body for 2 to 14 hours before transplant into a recipient. Transplants are blood typed and matched for the size and weight of the donor.

Lung

A single lung can save a life—and one donor can be the source of two separate lung transplants. Some conditions that could make a lung transplant necessary are cystic fibrosis, pulmonary hypertension, emphysema, and pulmonary edema. Lungs can be preserved outside of the body for 4 to 6 hours. Transplants are blood typed and matched for the size and weight of donor.

Kidney

Kidneys are the most commonly transplanted organ—and the most in need. While waiting for a kidney transplant, many patients can undergo daily dialysis treatments to clean toxins out of blood. Some conditions that could make a kidney transplant necessary are high blood pressure, diabetes, and cystic kidney disease. Kidneys can be preserved outside of the body for up to 36 hours before transplant into a recipient. Transplants are blood typed and matched for the size and weight of donor.

Intestine

Most intestinal transplants are preformed on infants and children. Some conditions that could make a transplant necessary are twisted or blocked intestines or short-gut syndrome. The intestine can be preserved outside of the body for 8 to 16 hours before transplant into a recipient. Transplants are blood typed and matched for the size and weight of donor.

Tissue Donation

Every year over 750,000 lives are enriched through tissue donation. Donated heart valves can replace damaged ones, allowing the heart to function well again. Musculoskeletal tissue replaces bone, tendons and ligaments lost to cancer, severe trauma, degenerative joint disease, arthritis, and other conditions. Skin can save the lives of burn victims.

Heart Valves

Heart valves can be recovered when the whole heart is determined not to be viable for transplant. Donated human vessels and valves are used as replacements and can mean the difference between life and death to recipients.

Upper Body Bone

The humerus, radius, and ulna are bones in the arm that can be transplanted. Bones can be transplanted in order to prevent amputation, promote healing, maintain mobility, and provide structure. After the bone and soft tissues are recovered, procurement technicians replace the bone with prosthetics.

Veins

Many people lose circulation in their legs, or even in their heart, due to disease or trauma. Donated veins can restore circulation in heart bypass surgeries and help prevent leg amputation for people suffering poor circulation.

Skin

Skin can be used to aid the healing process for severe burn victims, or for those who suffer from a disfiguring injury or disease. Donated skin grafts protect recipients from infection while promoting regeneration of their own skin.

Bone & Connective Tissue

The gift of bone and connective tissue helps individuals with various orthopedic and neurosurgical conditions. In all, over one hundred people may benefit from the gift of bone and connective tissue donation from a single donor. These tissues are used in a variety of back, joint, and leg surgeries, such as hip replacement, knee reconstruction, and spinal fusion. After the bone and soft tissues are recovered, procurement technicians replace the bone with prosthetics.

Eye

Over 46,000 people a year have their sight restored through corneal transplant, and one eye donor can help up to 10 people. Not only is the cornea used, the sclera (the white part of the eye) is needed for ocular graft surgery in the treatment of eye disease. Anyone can be an eye donor. Cataracts, poor eyesight, and age do not prohibit eye donation.

Cornea

The cornea is the clear window to the eye. It is about the size of a contact lens. Traumatic accidents to the eye, infections, and inherited eye diseases like Keratoconus are just a few reasons cornea donation can fill such a great need. Almost anyone can donate their corneas, even individuals with diabetes or cancer. Corneal transplants have a success rate that exceeds 95%.

Whole Globe

After the cornea has been recovered, the sclera (the white part of the eye) can be utilized to repair eyelids and reinforce the wall of the eye. Sclera can be used to repair ruptured ear drums, which restores hearing.

Living Kidney Donation

A living person can choose to give a kidney to someone in need through organ donation. A kidney can be donated to a friend or relative, or to any person on the waiting list in greatest need.

For more information on living donation, contact the organizations below:

Blood, Marrow, and Whole Body Donation

Blood Donation is the process by which blood is voluntarily drawn to be stored in a blood bank to help those suffering from a traumatic injury, blood related disease, and cancers, and those needing an organ or marrow transplant. For more information on giving blood, contact the organizations below:

Marrow Donation is the process by which the spongy material found inside bone is removed. The marrow contains immature stem cells that can develop into different types of blood cells for the purpose of carrying oxygen to the body, clotting blood, and fighting infection. For more information on giving marrow, contact the organizations below:

Whole Body Donation is when the entire body is donated to science after death. By agreeing to research when registering donation wishes for organ, eye, and tissue donation, you are not agreeing to whole body donation. For more information on whole body donation, contact the organizations below: