The time it takes for organ and tissue donation is different for everyone. It usually takes 24 to 36 hours.
The donor coordinators are nurses with special training that:
You can call the coordinator any time after the donation for support or if you have questions. The coordinator can refer you to other healthcare providers if needed. You may get some information about the recipients, but it’s limited.
People that need transplants are matched to an organ based on many factors including:
All the above information is used to help medical specialists decide which recipient is the best match for the organ that’s available.
Tissue programs focus on improving the health and quality of life of individuals by recovering, processing, storing, and distributing various types of tissues for transplantation. This process involves the use of tissue from both deceased and living donors.
Skin - the donation of skin enables a better and faster healing process to individuals who have been seriously burned.
Heart for Valves - heart valves are used to replace damaged or diseased valves in children or adults.
Bone - bone destroyed by cancer or trauma can be removed and replaced with healthy donated bone. This surgery can prevent amputation and save a limb.
Tendons- used to restore joint mobility and are sometimes used in joint repair procedures.
Tissue specialists come from a variety of scientific and health sciences backgrounds and receive additional specialized training to:
Medical specialists review the patient’s medical history and health status to determine who may benefit from a tissue transplant. Surgeons will then determine the best type of tissue transplant in consultation with the tissue program.
The great thing about corneal tissue is that anyone can be an eye donor. Blood type does not have to match and it does not matter if the potential donor has good eye sight. Only those suffering from some forms of cancer, infections or a few highly communicable diseases such as HIV or hepatitis will disqualify a potential ocular donor.
A corneal transplant involves the removal of the central portion (called a button) of the diseased cornea and replacing it with a matched button of a donor’s cornea. Corneal grafts are also performed on patients with damaged or scarred corneas that prevent acceptable vision. Scarring may have resulted from disease or trauma.
Recovery of the donor eye tissue takes place within hours of death. A corneal transplant is performed as quickly as possible (usually within 3-7 days).
Eye tissue donated for research on glaucoma, retinal disease, eye complication from diabetes and other sight disorders leads to new treatments and cures.
The surgery to remove organs and tissues is done with the same care as any other surgery. Everything is done to keep your family member’s dignity. The person’s body is treated with respect. All areas affected by organ or tissue removal are reconstructed. This is very important with eye donation. In these cases, the eye area is reconstructed so you can’t tell that surgery was done. Usually, you can expect the body to be released to the funeral home 24 to 48 hours after the person has died.
Most of the time, there is no way to tell that the person was an organ or tissue donor and you can have an open casket funeral.
Current as of: March 17, 2014
Author: Organ and Tissue Donation Programs, Alberta Health Services