Organ and tissue donation occurs after a person has died. Transplantable organs and tissue can be donated to help the lives of individuals in need. Anatomical gift means a donation of all or part of a human body, after death, for the purpose of transplantation, therapy, research and/ or education.

Donation is important because thousands of people die or suffer needlessly each year due to a lack of organ and tissue donors. A transplant is often the only hope. A single donor can save the lives of up to eight (8) people for organ donation and enhance the lives of at least 50 others through tissue donation.

​In the case of tissue donation, for which most deceased persons can be potential donors, the local tissue recovery organization receives a referral from a hospital, medical examiner or funeral home notifying them that an individual has reached cardiac death. An initial determination of donor eligibility is made based on basic criteria and available information (i.e., age, cause of death, immediate evidence of infection, etc.). Donated tissues such as skin, bone, tendons, veins and heart valves can dramatically improve the quality of life for recipients, and even save lives.

​If it is determined that the deceased individual is a candidate for donation, the state donor registry is searched and one or more persons who know the potential donor (i.e. historians and/or next of kin) are contacted for a medical and social history. If the potential donor is not found on the registry, his or her legally authorized representative (usually a spouse, relative or close friend) is offered the opportunity to authorize the donation, also known as the legal next of kin.

​Vital organs and tissues can be donated for transplantation. Organ donation is an option for people who have been declared legally dead by brain death criteria. Tissue donation is an option for people who have reached cardiac death.

Organs must be recovered as soon as possible after death is legally declared.  This is always done in a hospital setting with a transplant team. Organs – heart, kidneys, pancreas, lungs, liver, and small intestine. Organ transplants are life-saving.

Tissue – cornea, skin, bone, heart valves, blood vessels, and tendons. Tissue donation such as skin for burn victims or eye donations for sight-restoring cornea transplants give people a chance to lead full, productive lives. Unlike organs, tissue can be processed and stored for an extended period of time for use in burn cases, ligament repair, bone replacement, etc., such procedures as in dental, orthopedic, reconstruction and vascular. Tissue donation must be initiated within 24 hours of death.

Bone Marrow – a living donation

Each year, lifesaving and life-enhancing tissue are provided by approximately 30,000 tissue donors.

One tissue donor can enhance the lives of more than 50 people.

More than 1 million tissue transplants are done each year and the surgical need for tissue has been steadily rising.

​For more information on donation and tissue donation, click on the links below.                                                  ​

Donation Facts

Compassion for Life