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What is Tissue Donation & How Does It Help Others?

Learn about tissue donation and how it can repair body injuries and defects, restore sight and movement, and save lives.

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Cameron Whittle, cornea recipient, wins a gold medal at the Transplant Games of America.

Tissue donation helps restore lives in many ways. Transplanted tissues repair body injuries and defects, restore sight and movement, and can even save a life. Just one tissue donor has the potential to heal the lives of more than 75 people.

Most people have the potential to be a tissue donor at the time of death.

Tissue donation can happen when someone is registered as an organ donor, because this designation also applies to eyes and tissues. If a potential donor patient is not a registered organ donor, as a family member of the deceased, you may wish to make the decision to donate on behalf of your loved one.

Tissues that can be donated

Tissues that can be donated to heal and save lives include:

Corneas

Donated corneas help restore sight to individuals suffering from corneal blindness or trauma to the eye.

Bone/tendons

Bones and tendons can replace or reconstruct tissue and joints destroyed by tumors, trauma or infection. They can save limbs that would otherwise be amputated.

Heart valves

Donated heart valves can replace damaged ones, enabling the heart to function properly. When used in young patients, donated heart valves can actually “grow” with the recipient and reduce the need for repeated surgeries.

Veins/arteries

Donated veins help patients with coronary defects return to a normal lifestyle. Veins also help people with diabetes and other diseases that cause a decrease in the blood flow, by repairing damaged vessels and restoring circulation.

Skin

Donated skin helps reduce infection, scarring, pain and fluid loss in burn patients, and can sometimes save a life. It can also be used for cleft palate repair and reconstruction procedures, such as post-mastectomy.