Organ and tissue transplants offer a new chance at healthy, productive lives for those in need. Every day, transplant recipients return to their families, friends and communities – all because an unknown hero gave the gift of life.
There are several types of organ and tissue donation, and each one brings new hope for the thousands of people awaiting transplants:
Organ donation takes healthy organs from one person and transplants them into another person, allowing the recipient a better quality of life. There are two ways a person may become eligible to be an organ donor:
- Individuals who suffer severe brain damage may be candidates for organ donation. Before declaring death, a physician will perform a series of tests to determine the donor’s brain function. If the physician determines that all brain activity has ceased (a condition known in the medical community as “brain death”), the patient becomes eligible to provide life to those on the transplant waiting list by donating their loved one’s heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, pancreas or small intestine.
- After all lifesaving measures have been exhausted and it is determined that there will not be a meaningful recovery for the patient, the family – knowing their loved one’s wishes – decides to remove life sustaining measures such as the ventilator. Many families know that their loved one did not want to live in such a state and opt to let their loved one pass peacefully. This patient may be eligible to provide life-saving organs to those on the waiting list for a lifesaving gift as well.
Tissue donation may also be an option for individuals who want to donate. Donated tissues include bones, tendons, veins, heart valves, skin, corneas and connective tissue. With more than 1,000,000 tissue transplantation procedures performed in the U.S. each year, the need for donated tissues continues to grow.
Our team of highly trained procurement professionals facilitate tissue recovery for transplant recipients. Tissues are recovered at the hospital or at our in-house tissue recovery suite. The state-of-the-art suite maximizes the benefits of the donor’s gift through a number of improved processes and greater efficiency.
Many people suffering from blindness can regain the gift of sight through corneal transplants. Anyone can choose to be a cornea donor. Age, eye color and sight do not matter, and donors do not have to be a match for the recipient’s blood type. For more information about cornea donation, please visit Saving Sight or the Kansas Eye Bank.
You or your loved one can give the gift of life to another person by donating a kidney to someone on the waiting list. Living donation is not covered by standard donor registration, but Midwest Transplant Network facilitates the living donation of kidneys through an anonymous living donor program. For details, please review our Living Donor Program brochure or email us at LivingDonor@mwtn.org.
Midwest Transplant Network also supports the advancement of medical education. If an organ is recovered and deemed not transplantable, we will work with the following agencies to donate the organ for research when authorization has been granted:
- International Institute for the Advancement of Medicine
- Diabetes Research Institute
- University of Kansas Medical Center
- Cytonet (Promethera Biosciences)
Bone marrow transplants can save the lives of patients with certain blood disorders, including leukemia and other marrow diseases. The National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) is a nonprofit organization that facilitates marrow and blood stem cell transplants for patients with life-threatening diseases who do not have matching donors in their families. Since 1986, NMDP has facilitated more than 15,000 transplants throughout the United States. NMDP offers a single point of access for all sources of stem cells used in transplantation: marrow, peripheral blood and umbilical cord blood. To learn more about bone marrow donation, contact NMDP at 800-654-1247 or visit bethematch.org.
For more information about organ, tissue and cornea donation, please call 800-366-6791.