Helping other people lead a healthy life is one of the noblest gestures anyone can perform in the service of their fellow man. And few gestures are as selfless as donating the building blocks of life itself: your organs and tissues. But while most people are familiar enough with the former, not everyone knows that donating isn’t limited to your kidneys, liver or lungs. Indeed, science has progressed immeasurably over the last hundred years or so, and now there are many parts of the body that can successfully be utilized to restore life and mobility to others. To that end, let’s go over the main types of tissue that can be donated:
The clear, dome-shaped windows that cover our eyes, corneas are essential for allowing vision to occur in each person. People who experience traumatic eye injuries or infections, however, need new corneas in order to regain their sight. Luckily, corneal transplants are fairly straightforward, and pretty much anyone can help someone else restore their eyesight by the way of a cornea donation.
- Bones and Tendons
Bones and tendons are the essential scaffolding of our bodies and are vulnerable to all sorts of infections or tumors. By donating your bones and tendons, you may be able to save someone who might otherwise have their limbs amputated, or who cannot make use of them due to certain neurological conditions. Femurs and hip bones are just some of the body parts that can successfully be transplanted.
- Heart Valves
Assisting the heart itself, heart valves play an essential role in regulating blood flow by opening and closing the heart’s four chambers and preventing blood from coursing backward. Various infections and age-related diseases can interfere with this process, however, creating the need for valve transplants to replace the ones that become damaged. In young patients, donated heart valves actually continue to grow over time, thereby reducing the need for recurring interventions.
- Veins and Arteries
Veins and arteries play an essential part in maintaining life by transporting oxygenated blood around the body. Patients with bad circulation, however, are in danger of losing their limbs or suffering heart-attacks and experience a much poorer quality of life as a result. Donated veins are often used in heart bypass surgeries and other interventions that can split the difference between life and death for the ailing individuals.
The outer layer of our bodies, skin is vulnerable to virtually all the elements. Many people suffer from various traumas and burns that require skin grafts in order to properly heal, which is where donated skin comes into play. This type of tissue also comes in handy in cleft palate repair surgeries and mastectomy reconstructions.
That concludes our quick overview of tissue donation and the main types of tissues that can successfully be transplanted. Every year, around 39,000 heroes provide lifesaving and healing tissues for donation, with each donor being able to heal up to 75 people. If you’d like to become one of them, visit LifeCenter’s website and find out how you can make a contribution towards saving people’s lives today.