Being an organ donor may seem like something that would only make a small difference, but in reality one organ donor has the potential to save or improve the lives of up to 50 people with donated organs and tissues. The obvious organs, such as the heart, lungs, and kidneys are always going to be life-changing for one of the 120,000 people waiting for these organ transplants in the United States. However, there are more than 1 million people who could benefit from other lifesaving and life-improving tissue donations. Here is a look at some of the body parts you didn’t know you could donate.
Intestinal failure occurs when the body is no longer able to maintain protein, energy, fluid, electrolyte, or micronutrient balance when on a normal diet. This condition is usually due to some type of gastrointestinal disease and will lead to malnutrition or even death if the patient does not receive a transplant. Although it is possible for a living donor to donate an intestine segment in some cases, most intestine transplants require removing the whole organ from a deceased donor. Transplants have to be blood typed and matched for the size and weight of the donor.
Corneas are the transparent, dome-shaped surfaces of the eyes that are responsible for a large part of your ability to focus. Also called a keratoplasty, a cornea transplant is a surgical procedure to replace part of a damaged cornea with corneal tissue from a deceased donor. Most corneal transplants are successful and can help to restore vision, reduce pain, and improve the appearance of a damaged or diseased cornea. Almost anyone can donate their corneas, even individuals with diabetes or cancer.
Donating skin can be very beneficial to the healing process for burn victims or others who suffer from a disfiguring injury or disease. Skin graft transplants are good for protecting the area from infection while promoting the regeneration the recipients own skin.
Donating bones and connective tissue helps many individuals with various orthopedic and neurosurgical conditions. It is possible for over one hundred people to benefit from bone and tissue donation from a single donor, since the tissues are used in a variety of back, joint, and leg surgeries, including hip replacement, knee reconstruction, and spinal fusion.
Because of disease or trauma, many people lose circulation to their legs. However, veins from deceased donors help circulation in a variety of patients and procedures, ranging from restoring circulation in heart bypass surgeries to preventing leg amputations.