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Vascular Composite Allograft: What is it?

A Vascular Composite Allograft (VCA) is the transplantation of a composite tissue that may include skin, muscle, bone and nerves and that requires blood flow in order to function after the transplant. The VCAs most likely to be transplanted are faces and limbs, like arms, hands, legs and feet. VCAs are currently rare, but have started to become a more common medical intervention of choice for patients suffering severe injury and disfigurement due to cancer, accidents, assaults, war injuries or other life-threatening illness, like double-hand transplant recipient, Zion Harvey. Last year, Zion became the first child to receive a double hand transplant. Today, he is thriving and smiling and recently shared his inspiring story with the Today Show.

Donor Alliance does not currently recover VCAs in Colorado and Wyoming. If we were to begin facilitating these types of transplants, VCA donation would only take place following a special conversation and authorization by the next of kin, as state donor registries do not pertain to VCAs. The VCA donor and potential recipient are first matched by blood and tissue type compatibility. In the case of face and limbs, transplant teams try to match the donor and recipient by skin color, body size, gender, and in some cases, by the age range appropriate for the recipient.

Click here to learn more about the different types of donation, or to learn more about organ, eye and tissue donation and the reasons to say “yes” to deceased donation, visit our “Why Donate?” page, and to register to become a donor, visit Donate Life Colorado or Donate Life Wyoming.