What is a tissue transplant?

Tissue Transplantation

Palema / Pixabay

One of the greatest medical advancements of our time is transplantation. Transplantation has helped save many people’s lives, health, and ability to perform certain functions they previously couldn’t.

While most people are familiar with organ donation, tissue donation is not as well-known, but it has also saved many people. Unlike organ donation where an organ (e.g. heart, kidney, and lung) is transplanted into a person, tissue donation involves transplantation of body tissues such as heart valves, tendons, corneas, veins, bone, skin, and other body tissues.

Tissue transplantation has saved many lives and helped many restore their health. For instance, thousands have regained their sight as a result of cornea transplants and skin transplants have helped burn victims recover more easily. Unlike in organ donation where only 1-2% of people qualify, most people qualify for tissue donation.

If a person chooses to be a tissue donor, they don’t have to worry about extra costs to their family and they can also be happy knowing they helped make someone’s life a lot better. This post offers some potential tissues that can be donated:

Corneas

Every day, donated corneas help restore sight to individuals suffering from corneal blindness or trauma to the eye. Tens of thousands of corneal transplants are performed in the U.S. every year.

Bone/tendons

Bones and tendons can be used to replace or reconstruct tissue destroyed by tumors, trauma or infection, and saving limbs that would otherwise be amputated.

Heart Valves
heart valve transplant

geralt / Pixabay

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

Veins/Arteries

Donated veins can be used in patients who require coronary artery bypass surgery, a routine procedure that saves thousands of lives and allows these individuals to return to their normal lifestyles. For individuals suffering from diabetes or other diseases that cause a decrease in the blood flow, surgeons may use donated veins to repair damaged vessels and restore blood flow — in many cases saving a recipient’s leg from amputation.

Skin

Donated skin is critically needed for patients suffering from burns or trauma, and used as a bandage to protect the body from infection and promote healing. Donated skin is also used for cleft palate repair or mastectomy reconstruction.

Read more here:  Tissue Donation

Before a person agrees to tissue transplantation, the doctor has to explain to them exactly what will happen and how the tissues will be used. The surgery is done with the same care as any other surgery.

It is possible to donate some body tissue while you are still alive such as the amniotic sac for mothers having a planned cesarean section and the femoral head for people who have had hip replacement surgery.

This video provides an interesting take on tissue donation as well as another tissue that can be donated while living:

Human tissues for transplantation represent a special category of basic essential healthcare products that can be studied further to come up with complex biotechnology products to help people in future. With thousands of people all over the world in need of various tissue transplantation procedures, everyone is encouraged to sign up and be a donor.

Here are some interesting stats about tissue donation:

Quick Facts

  • Donated tissues such as skin, bone and heart valves can dramatically improve the quality of life for recipients, and even save lives.

    Skin tissue

    geralt / Pixabay

  • Each year, approximately 30,000 tissue donors provide lifesaving and healing tissue for transplant.
  • Approximately 1.5 million tissue transplants are performed each year.
  • One tissue donor can restore health and heal the lives of more than 75 people.
  • Most people can be potential tissue donors at the time of death.

Read more here:  Tissue Donation

Registering to be a tissue donor is easy. However, once you fill out a form and submit, it is a legal binding document so be sure it is what you truly want. Of course, your decision can always be changed, but keep in mind that just one tissue donor can save multiple lives and make life better for many more.