Tissue donation differs from organ donation in several ways. First, there is no waiting list for most tissue transplants, and the tissues are available when someone needs them. While donated organs have to be transplanted within hours of recovery, tissue donations can be preserved and transplanted for up to five years. Donated tissues can be used to help and heal people in several different and meaningful ways.
Here are some of the tissues that can be donated and transplanted to those in need:
Bones and tendons can be used to replace or reconstruct tissue destroyed by tumors, trauma or infection, and saving limbs that would otherwise be amputated.
Donated heart valves can replace damaged ones, allowing the heart to function again. When used in young patients, these donated heart valves can actually “grow” with the recipient and reduce the need for repeated surgeries.
Donated veins can be used in patients who require coronary artery bypass surgery, a routine procedure that saves thousands of lives and allows these individuals to return to their normal lifestyles. For individuals suffering from diabetes or other diseases that cause a decrease in the blood flow, surgeons may use donated veins to repair damaged vessels and restore blood flow — in many cases saving a recipient’s leg from amputation.
Donated skin is critically needed for patients suffering from burns or trauma, and used as a bandage to protect the body from infection and promote healing. Donated skin is also used for cleft palate repair or mastectomy reconstruction.
Every day, donated corneas help restore sight to individuals suffering from corneal blindness or trauma to the eye. Tens of thousands of corneal transplants are performed in the U.S. every year. Cornea donation in Colorado and Wyoming is facilitated by the Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Bank. We at Donor Alliance are proud to work with RMLEB, but it is important to note that they are a separate organization. They can be reached at (800) 444-7479, firstname.lastname@example.org, or www.corneas.org, and can help answer questions related to cornea donation.