One person can save up to 8 lives through organ donation and enhance more than 75 lives through tissue donation.
What organs and tissues are transplantable?
- The kidneys filter wastes and excess water from the blood and balance the body’s fluids.
- While waiting for a kidney transplant, many patients undergo dialysis to remove toxins out of their blood. Some conditions that could make a kidney transplant necessary are high blood pressure, diabetes and cystic kidney disease.
- Kidneys are the most needed and most commonly transplanted organ.
- The heart is the body’s hardest working muscle – it beats 60-80 times each minute as it pumps blood throughout the body.
- Some conditions that can make a heart transplant necessary are cardiomyopathy, heart failure, myocarditis and heart disease.
- The trachea or windpipe carries air to the lungs where alveoli (tiny air sacs similar to folded balloons) extract oxygen and exchange it for carbon dioxide.
- A single lung can save a life. One donor can save the lives of two people by donating their lungs.
- Some conditions that can make a lung transplant necessary are cystic fibrosis, pulmonary hypertension, emphysema and pulmonary edema.
- The liver is a complex organ that has more than 500 known functions. It breaks down harmful substances in the blood, produces bile that aids in digestion and stores vitamins, sugars and fats.
- A donated liver can sometimes be split between two recipients, so one donor can potentially save the lives of two people.
- Some conditions that can make a liver transplant necessary are birth defects of the liver or bile duct, chronic liver infections like hepatitis or damage to the organ from drugs or alcohol.
- The pancreas produces insulin, a hormone that helps the body use glucose (sugar) for energy, and enzymes that break down fat, protein and carbohydrates during digestion.
- The pancreas is often transplanted with a kidney because diabetes affects both organs.
- The intestines digest food and absorb nutrients in the blood stream.
- Some conditions that could make an intestine transplant necessary are twisted or blocked intestines or short-gut syndrome.
- Corneas are the clear, dome-shaped window covering the front of the eye.
- Cornea transplants may be necessary following traumatic accidents to the eye, infections or inherited eye diseases. Cornea transplants restore sight to those that have lost their vision.
- Almost anyone, regardless or age or medical condition, can donate their whole eyes or cornea for transplant and/or research.
- Skin is the body’s first defense against microbes and also regulates heat and fluids in the body.
- Donated skin can be lifesaving and enhancing when used in the healing process for severe burn victims and people who suffer a disfiguring injury or disease. Donated skin grafts will protect recipients from infection while promoting regeneration of their own skin.
- Blood is pumped through the heart’s four chambers aided by four heart valves that open and close to prevent blood from flowing backward.
- Donated heart valves can be lifesaving and enhancing to those with infections and age-related diseases that can damage heart valves or to children born with malformed valves.
- Donated connective tissue helps individuals with various orthopedic and neurological conditions.
- Connective tissue includes tendons, ligaments and cartilage that can be used in a variety of back, joint and leg surgeries such as hip replacement, knee reconstruction and spinal fusion.
- Arteries carry oxygenated blood from the heart to the rest of the body and veins bring the deoxygenated blood back.
- Donated veins are used to restore circulation in heart bypass surgeries and to avoid leg amputation for people suffering from poor circulation.
- Bones are made up of living protein fibers that constantly rebuild themselves.
- Donated bones can be transplanted in order to prevent amputation, promote healing and maintain mobility and structure.