Every year, there are approximately 20,000 tissue donors in the United States. Nearly a million tissue transplant surgeries are performed each year in the US and it is estimated that 1 in 20 Americans will need some type of tissue transplant. Almost 2.5 million people are helped through tissue and eye donation every year.
Tissues that can be donated include bone, heart valves, veins, skin, ligaments and tendons. These can be recovered upto 24 hours after death has occurred.
Tissue donation is different from organ donation. Organs that can be recovered for transplantation include kidneys, liver, heart, lungs, pancreas and intestine. Usually a tissue donor has died a biological death, meaning the person’s heart and lungs have permanently stopped functioning. In many instances, an organ donor has had a sudden death and is declared “brain dead” prior to becoming an organ donor. Approximately 24.000 people are declared brain dead each year. Only 2-3 % of all deaths meet the criteria for organ donation.
One tissue donor can enhance the lives of more than 50 recipients. Anyone, regardless of age is a potential tissue donor. Donated heart valves can help replace damaged ones and special bone grafts can help patients with spinal deformities. Skin/bone grafts can help replace tissue lost due to trauma, congenital deformities, cancer, arthritis and other conditions. Skin donations could be life saving for burn victims and are also used for reconstructive and plastic surgery applications