Tissue donation differs from organ donation in several ways. Most significantly, tissue donation is not limited to head trauma situations where brain death occurs. Tissue donation remains an option for up to twenty four hours after the heart stops beating and death is declared and is a possibility even if the deceased did not die in a hospital. Tissue recovery is a sterile procedure which is conducted in a manner very similar to traditional surgery. This, coupled with the processing techniques, helps ensure that the recipient receives high quality, safe transplantable tissues.
WHO CAN DONATE?
The criteria for tissue donation varies. Most people, regardless of age or prior medical history are able to donate some tissue. No one should assume that their tissue can not be used because of their age or medical condition.
Hundreds of thousands of people are treated every year using donated tissue. The tissues that can be donated are: corneas, skin, bone, saphenous veins and heart valves. Nationwide, more than eight hundred thousand tissue grafts are annually distributed. Medical researchers continue to discover new ways to treat patients using donated tissue, resulting in greater need each year.
HOW DONOR TISSUES CAN BENEFIT OTHERS
If corneas are donated, two people can benefit from the gift of sight. The cornea is a clear lens sitting on the front of the eye and when removed, it looks like a soft contact lens.
Two people may benefit from a heart valve donation. The heart is removed and sent to the tissue bank for removal of the aortic and pulmonic valves. These valves are used for heart valve replacements. A person receiving a human donated valve does not need anti-coagulant (blood thinner) therapy, as do those receiving a mechanical valve. Anti-coagulant therapy poses a 1.5% fatality risk per year when used. Therefore, it is beneficial for children and young adults to receive human valves.
One skin donor can help as many as eight people. The skin removed is superficial, about the thickness of a Kleenex, leaving an appearance as a sunburn when removed. The skin is removed from the abdomen, middle to lower back, buttocks and the front and back of the thigh. Donated skin is used with burn victims. Donated skin can be placed on a wound and left up to six weeks. During this time, the patient has the opportunity to grow his own skin without the trauma of losing new skin tissue to dressing changes. New and exposed nerve endings are covered during this time, decreasing the patient’s pain. Also, by covering the wound, the risk of an introduction of pathogens decreases, reducing the risk of infection.
A single bone donor can help as many as one hundred people. The bone is used in orthopedic, neurosurgical, and reconstructive surgeries, including spinal fusions and hip and knee replacements.
A vein donor can help two to three people. The saphenous vein is a large vein in the leg. Saphenous veins are often used by people who are having coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG). For those same patients returning seven to ten years later having no saphenous vein, donated vein can be used. For people who have severe vascular diseases and need vascular surgeries, (aortic-femoral bypass), again saphenous vein can be used.
Physicians and KODA staff members show the utmost degree of dignity and respect for your loved one in the recovery of organs, eyes and tissue. The recovery of life-saving and life-enhancing organs and tissues does not ordinarily interfere with customary funeral arrangements. An open viewing funeral is possible in most cases.
KODA TISSUE SERVICES IS ACCREDITED BY THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF TISSUE BANKS.