Many donor families ask whether they can have contact with their loved one's recipients. Some wonder how their loved one's organ recipients are doing months and years after the transplant or wish they knew how many people were helped with their loved one's tissue, such as bone and skin.
If your loved one donated organs, such as kidneys, pancreas, liver, lungs or heart, we can request a medical update on the recipient and provide information on the letter writing process, should you wish to initiate contact.
Tissue and Cornea Donation:
Within the first few months of your loved one's donation, you should receive a letter providing information about what organs were able to be transplanted. Depending on what information was released from the transplant center, there may be some social information about the recipients as well.
Organ Medical Update
Before you request an update, make sure you have support in your life and feel ready to deal with favorable news as well as the possibility that your loved one's recipients are not doing well or that they are lost to follow up and we are unable to locate their care provider for an update. Some people are just happy knowing they did what they could to help and don't want to deal with potential bad news, and in this case, aren't ready to request an update. Other people just want to know either way.
Requesting a tissue update can take place 12 months after donation. Due to tissue regulations and the lengthy quality assurance process, it will take some time before the tissue is able to be used for transplant. Many things can happen along the way (testing, medical record review, evaluation of the tissue measurements) that may deem the tissue not suitable for transplant.
Unfortunately, due to complexities involved with transplantation of donated tissue, we are unable to forward correspondence from donor families to tissue recipients. However, if we receive correspondence from your loved one's tissue recipient, we will contact you and see if you would like to receive this type of correspondence.
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Tissue donation is a gift of immeasurable value as there are many thousands of people waiting for a tissue transplant that will enable them to return to a normal life. Here are some common uses for donated tissue:
- Bone and ligament tissue may restore quality of life to those that may have suffered traumatic injuries, joint injuries, cancerous tumors, back injuries, or degenerative disease.
- Cornea and posterior pole tissues can give sight to one or two people who have been devastated by the loss of sight.
- Whole heart for heart valve tissues may help up to two people who may have suffered from heart disease or children born with birth defects.
- Pericardium (the layer of tissue around the heart) tissue can repair a patient's shoulder or to help with cardiac/heart surgeries or breast reconstruction.
- Vein tissues may be used to replace blocked arteries in heart-bypass surgery or in peripheral vascular reconstruction surgery where a bypass is required or to help save a patient's limb.
- Skin tissue can be used to fill soft tissue loss from cancer or trauma, to repair hernia injuries, to restore bladder control in the treatment of incontinence, and used in periodontal surgery to correct gingival defects.
Before you request an update, make sure you have support in your life and feel ready to deal with favorable news as well as the possible news that nothing was able to be transplanted. Some people are just happy knowing they did what they could to help and don't want to deal with potentially bad news, and in this case, aren't ready to request an update. Other people just want to know either way.
When tissue is utilized for transplant, tissue trace cards are sent back to the processor and when we request an update, the processor informs us of the number of surgeries performed to date with the donated tissue. Sometimes the processors can provide information such as the recipient's gender, age, state where the surgery took place or type of surgery performed.