How Are Vital Organs Used?

HEARTS- are transplanted into persons with severe heart disease; in the event the whole heart can not be transplanted, the heart valves can be used for children and adults with defective valves.

KIDNEYS – are used for persons on dialysis with chronic kidney failure.

LUNGS – are used for persons with severe lung disease.

LIVERS – are transplanted into persons with liver failure as the result of cirrhosis or other liver disorders.

PANCREAS – can be used to treat diabetes.

Who can donate tissue and how is it used?

LifeNet Health evaluates deaths resulting from causes other than brain death for potential tissue and cornea donation. The transplantation of heart valves, skin, bone, corneas, and other tissues can restore thousands of people to normal, active, and productive lives.

SKIN – is used as a protective covering for extensive burn victims.

BONE – can be used for reconstructive or replacement for persons with traumatic injuries, cancer or bone disease.

CORNEAS – can restore sight to those suffering from injuries or diseases of the cornea.

OTHER TISSUES – nerves, bone marrow, veins, and ligaments can be used for a variety of disorders.

What happens once your decision to donate has been made?

Donor evaluation will be required for all families consenting to donation. The testing includes an extensive medical and social history and multiple laboratory tests to rule out the possibility of infection or other problems that may prevent transplantation. Hepatitis and AIDS screening are routinely performed on all donors. Families requesting results of these tests should discuss this with their transplant coordinator.

While testing is being done, the person must be maintained on the ventilator until after the organs are recovered. This may take several hours. Recipients are then located and transplant teams assembled.

Physicians in the operating room perform recovery of the organs. Your loved one is treated with respect and dignity the entire time. The transplant coordinator notifies you once the procedure is completed. Decisions not to donate are honored and respected. Your physician and hospital personnel help you with further arrangements.