Donated tissues save or dramatically improve the quality of life for the people who receive them. As an organ and tissue donor, you can enhance the lives of up to 50 people.
Corneas, the middle ear, skin, heart valves, bone, veins, cartilage, tendons, and ligaments can be stored in tissue banks and used to restore sight, cover burns, repair hearts, replace veins, and mend damaged connective tissue and cartilage in recipients.
Heart valves can be transplanted to save the lives of children born with heart defects, and adults with damaged heart valves.
Skin can be used as a natural dressing for people with serious burns. It can even save lives by stopping infections.
Bone is important for people receiving artificial joint replacements, or replacing bone that has been removed due to illness or injury, for example in hand and face transplants.
Tendons, the elastic-like cords that attach bones and muscles to each other, can be donated to help rebuild damaged joints.
Most people can be tissue donors when they die. The local tissue bank (a tissue recovery organization) will be notified by the hospital, medical examiner or funeral home.
Tissue donation must be initiated within 24 hours of death. However, tissue can be processed and stored for an extended period of time.