Most people are familiar with the incredible impact organ donation has and the stories that result from it; lung recipients able to breathe again; kidney recipients who no longer require dialysis; heart recipients who can return to normal activity. Many people, however, are unfamiliar with the widespread impact of tissue donation.
One donor can save up to eight lives by donating their organs, but they can also save and heal the lives of many more by donating their tissue. In fact, 1.5 million tissue transplants are performed each year.
Whether it is helping burn victims with their life-threatening injuries, allowing athletes to regain strength from torn ligaments or tendons, or helping military men and women avoid amputation due to nerve injury, tissue donation has an immense impact on the lives of people of all ages. Though you may not be aware, there are probably several people in your life who have personally benefited from tissue donation.
Unlike organs, tissue can actually be processed and stored for an extended period of time. This flexibility helps provide more opportunities for patients in need of a transplant.
There are a number of tissues that can be donated, including:
- Corneas – Restores sight
- Tendons – Rebuilds joints
- Heart Valves – Repairs cardiac defects
- Veins – Re-establishes circulation
- Skin – Heals burn patients
- Bones – Prevents need for amputation
- Nerves – Regeneration for nerve gaps caused by injury
Donating tissue tremendously improves the quality of life for recipients. At LifeCenter, we have seen firsthand how the generosity of a donor’s tissue donation makes a lasting impact in a recipient’s life.
In 2008, LifeCenter Northwest expanded its recovery services to include tissue. Since the start of our tissue program, we’ve dramatically grown in the number of musculoskeletal, skin, and cardiovascular tissue grafts recovered.
Over the last six years we have surpassed major milestones in tissue donation with 406% increase in tissue donors and a 405% increase in grafts recovered. Last year more than 48,000 grafts were recovered from 643 donors.
“Last year’s success exemplifies LCNW’s commitment to serving our community at the highest level. We are ever vigilant in our pursuit of new tissue recovery opportunities to offer increased donation opportunities to families, and provide ever increasing numbers of transplant options to awaiting recipients,” said Jan Hendrix, Director of Tissue Donation Services for LCNW. “The tissue recovery staff shows amazing drive and resilience in meeting the needs of a challenging and demanding work schedule, always striving for excellence in surgical recovery of tissues and honoring the gift, and this commitment to excellence secures LCNW’s position as a preferred recovery partner”
We are excited to continue expanding our tissue program and bring second chances to more people this year, but most importantly, are grateful for the generosity and kindness from donors and their families who let us make tissue transplantation happen. It is because of them that we can help save and heal lives through tissue donation.