Tissue Donation

Donated tissues such as skin, bone and cardiovascular tissue can dramatically improve the quality of life, or, indeed, save the lives of recipients.

In the case of tissue donation, the most common type of donation, Life Alaska Donor Services receives a referral from a hospital, medical examiner, first responders (such as EMS or local law enforcement), hospice agency or funeral home notifying them that an individual has died. An initial determination of donor eligibility is made based on basic criteria and available information.

If it is determined that the deceased individual is a candidate for donation, the state donor registry is searched and one or more persons who know the potential donor are contacted for a medical and social history. If the potential donor is not found on the registry, his or her legal representative is offered the opportunity to authorize the donation.

Tissue donation must be initiated within 24 hours of death.

Unlike organs, tissue can be processed and stored for an extended period of time. Cardiovascular tissue may include heart valves for cardiac surgery and vascular grafts used to bypass blocked arteries whether in the heart or extremities. Skin is transplanted either for burn coverage or as supplementary soft tissue support. Bone and associated tissues are used for repairing skeletal defects from cancer, diseases, birth defects or trauma.