Donor dura (covering of the brain) is used to close a patient’s dura following surgery for brain tumors or trauma. It can be used to act as a membrane barrier following surgeries for cancer or infection elsewhere in the body.
Portions of the mandible can be used in jaw or facial reconstruction to repair trauma, infection or cancer.
A thin layer of skin from the back can save the lives of patients suffering from catastrophic burns by reducing fluid loss and providing a protective covering, which helps reduce the risk of infection.
The fibrous connective tissue covering large muscles (called fascia lata) are used for soft tissue repairs. These are often due to serious trauma, or sometimes sports related injuries. Connective tissue can also be used for bladder and incontinence procedures.
Grafts are primarily transplanted in teenagers and young adults who are facing the loss of a limb or even life, due to disease, injury or cancer. These grafts typically include bones, tendons, cartilage, or supporting connective tissues.
The valves of the heart save lives. Valves are used primarily in babies and children born with heart valve defects or injury. The pericardium (a sac around heart) is used to correct inner ear problems, to repair eyelids and for various dental procedures.
Doctors often use ribs and surrounding cartilage in the facial reconstruction of trauma patients, and to treat infection or cancer.
The bones (primarily from arms, hips and legs) can be used to save lives. Doctors need bone for spinal fusions, to stabilize fractures, to promote growth in spinal and cervical injuries, in the replacement of knees and hips, and to correct defects that can cost lives.
A primary vein from the leg (the saphenous vein) can be used in bypass grafting surgeries to restore blood flow to heart or extremities.
The tendons of the knees, lower legs and heels are used to repair damaged tendons due to sports injuries and to restore mobility.
Anyone can be a potential donor regardless of age, race, or medical history. Becoming a donor will not impact the care given during life – when admitted to a hospital, the number one priority is always to save your life. Only for those who have passed on is organ donation an option.
All major religions in the United States support donation and see it as the final act of love and generosity toward others. An open casket funeral is possible for donors. There is no cost to the donor or their family for organ or tissue donation. Through the entire donation process, privacy and the body are treated with respect and dignity.