3 Little Known Facts About Donated Tissue

Tissue donation and transplantation may get less attention than the similar practice of organ donation and transplantation, but it’s equally important in its own right. Jonathan Boyd, CTBS, Director of Certification and Online Learning at the American Association of Tissue Banks in McLean, Virginia, will shed light on some of the lesser known aspects of tissue donation in his education session, What You Need to Know About Donated Tissue.

In particular, Boyd says, nurses should know three things about tissue donation.

Tissue donation is more like organ donation than you might think.

The impact of organ donation is immediate and apparent and exciting; you see it in movies and on TV. But you don’t necessarily hear about tissue or cornea donation in the same way.

“Organs instantly and directly save lives, but [with tissue donation], people are able to live their lives or to see because of those gifts, and they don’t receive the same attention,” says Boyd. “And bringing attention to it is really exciting.”

Donating families can receive follow-up.

Just as families who donate organs can receive follow-up information about how their loved ones’ organs are used, so can those who donate tissue. Boyd says it doesn’t happen very often, but there’s a packet insert that recipients can fill out that is later sent to the donor’s family if they elect to receive follow-up.

“It’s so humbling when there’s follow-up. I remember one case very clearly, a pediatric heart valve donor, and those grafts go to babies with congenital defects, so they are lifesaving. We got confirmation that one of the valves was implanted, and it had such an impact on the family, knowing that their choice to donate saved a life,” says Boyd.

Only about 25% of authorized donors are suitable for transplant.

Not many people realize how much effort goes into making sure that donated tissue is safe and suitable for use. There’s extensive infectious disease testing, along with exhaustive medical history screening, both with the family and through a medical records review.

Check out Boyd’s education session, What You Need to Know About Donated Tissue in the Education Hub.