More Facts About Donation

What Can Be Donated?

One organ, eye, and tissue donor can save the lives of eight people, the sight of two, and improve the health of over 50 more. Without a donor, transplant surgeons cannot help even one person. body Organs: Heart, lungs, liver, pancreas, kidneys and small intestines Tissue Grafts: Corneas, heart valves, bones: ulna, radius, humerus, femur, tibia, fibula and calcaneus, skin, veins and arteries, connective tissue, tendons and ligaments.

Donation Myths: Setting the Record Straight

  • Your medical care will not be affected by your decision to donate. When you go to the hospital for treatment, doctors focus on saving your life, not somebody else’s.
  • The donation process does not begin until death has been declared by a physician and confirmatory tests have been performed by the OPO. Brain death is the irreversible loss of function of the brain, including the brainstem. People DO NOT recover from death.
  • All major religions support or permit donations, and most consider it the ultimate act of kindness and compassion.
  • Donation costs you and your family nothing.
  • People of all ages and medical histories can be potential donors. Medical professionals will decide at the time of death whether or not one’s organs and tissues are suitable for transplantation. Don’t rule yourself out.The organ allocation system is fair and equitable. Organs are placed based on blood and tissue match-ups, geographic proximity, medical urgency and time on the waiting list. It is a fair and equitable system. The only thing lacking is donors. That’s why it’s so important to sign up to give life on your statewide registry.
  • When you sign up to be a donor with your statewide Registry, you ensure your wish to save lives will be honored. When someone adds their name to the state’s donor registry, they create a legally binding document, an Advanced Donation Directive. This relieves the family of the burden of making the donation decision.
  • Add your name online to your statewide registry today, or when you apply for or renew your driver’s license to ensure that your wish to save lives will be carried out.

History of Transplantation

People have always been interested in replacing parts of the human body. A 13th century medieval tale tells of the transplantation of a leg from a deceased Moor to a person whose leg was lost. A medical journal in 1881 discussed the first skin transplant. The patient involved was leaning against a metal door when lightning struck, burning the skin off his arm. The presiding surgeon used skin from a patient who had just died as a temporary graft. In the 1940s, Sir Peter Medawar reported using refrigerated skin as a temporary “dressing” for burns. Today there are about 20 skin banks in the United States to contact for grafting.Corneal transplants were reported as early as 1880, and in 1905 Edward Zirm, an Austrian ophthalmologist, restored sight to a workman blinded by lime. Now, at least 41,652 corneal transplants are performed annually from 100 eye banks across the United States.Dr. Lawler performed the first kidney transplant in the United States in 1950. Patients in the early days did not survive long, but as experiments continued and drugs were developed to overcome the recipients’ rejections, the results began to improve. In the last 25 years, more than 80,000 kidney transplants have been performed.In 1963, Dr. Thomas Starzl performed the first human liver transplant. The drug, cyclosporin, an immunosuppressant, has now increased the one-year survival rate for liver transplant recipients to 70 percent.The first lung transplant was performed by Dr. James D. Hardy in 1963 at the University of Mississippi.  In 1967, Dr. Richard C. Lillehei, from the University of Minnesota, performed the first successful pancreas transplant. Also in 1967, Dr. Christian Bernard in Cape Town, South Africa, performed the first successful heart transplant, using techniques pioneered at Stanford University by Drs. Norman Shumway and Richard Lower. Today, the one-year survival rate is 80 percent. The first successful heart-lung transplant was performed at Stanford University in 1981 by Dr. Shumway and Dr. Bruce Reitz. Organ and tissue transplantation is an accepted form of medical treatment. The future of donation and transplantation is dependent upon the continued support from both the medical community and the general public. As an individual, you can help by signing up online and talking to your family about donating life.

Tissue Donation

Allografts are tissues that are taken from one person and transplanted into another. Treatment incorporating allograft tissue can help reduce pain, restore mobility, and may allow patients to regain the normal functions of daily living that were compromised as a result of injury or disease.

  • Allografts have a long history of safety and efficacy in almost all surgical specialties – orthopedic, spine, sports medicine, cardiac, dental, cosmetic and several other surgeries.
  • Allografts is a preferred option relative to metal, synthetic, or xenografts in some the surgical procedures, such as early correction of congenital heart deformations.
  • Allograft usage has been increasing rapidly over the last several years. Approximately 875,000 allografts were implanted in 2001. That number had grown to more than 2.5 million by 2008.
  • A single donor can impact the lives of more than a hundred tissue recipients.
  • Allografts transform the quality of life of millions of recipients because of the generosity of more than 30,000 tissue donors annually.