Types of Organ, Eye and Tissue Donation

Types of Organ, Eye and Tissue Donation

Organ, eye and tissue transplants offer a new chance at healthy, productive lives for those in need. Every day, transplant recipients return to their daily activities alongside their families and friends — all because an unknown hero gave the gift of life through donation.

There are several types of organ, eye and tissue donation, and each one brings new hope for the thousands of people awaiting transplants. 

Organ donation takes healthy organs from one person and transplants them into another person, allowing the recipient a better quality of life. A person may be eligible to become an organ donor in two ways:

  • Before declaring death on individuals who suffer severe brain damage, a physician will perform a series of tests to determine the patient’s brain function. If the physician determines that all brain activity has ceased, the patient becomes eligible to provide life to those on the transplant waiting list by donating their heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, pancreas or small intestine.
  • After all lifesaving measures have been exhausted and doctors determine that the patient cannot experience a meaningful recovery, the family — knowing their loved one’s wishes — can decide to remove life-sustaining measures such as a ventilator. Many families know that their loved one did not want to live in such a state and opt to let their loved one pass peacefully. In this situation, the patient may be eligible to provide lifesaving organs to those on the waiting list for a lifesaving gift as well.

Tissue donation may also be an option for individuals who want to donate. Donated tissues include bones, tendons, veins, heart valves, skin and more. With more than 1 million tissue transplantation procedures performed in the United States each year, the need for donated tissues continues to grow.

Our team of highly trained procurement professionals facilitates tissue recovery for transplant recipients. Tissues are recovered at the hospital or at our in-house tissue recovery suite. The state-of-the-art suite maximizes the benefits of the donor’s gift through a number of improved processes and greater efficiency.

Many people suffering from blindness can regain the gift of sight through cornea transplants. Anyone can choose to be an eye donor. Age, eye color and sight do not matter, and donors do not have to be a match for the recipient’s blood type. For more information about eye donation, please visit Saving Sight or the Kansas Eye Bank.

You or your loved one can give the gift of life to another person by donating a kidney to someone on the waiting list. While living donation is not covered by standard donor registration, Midwest Transplant Network facilitates the living donation of kidneys through an anonymous living donor program. For details, please review our Living Donor Program brochure or email us at LivingDonor@mwtn.org.

Midwest Transplant Network also supports the advancement of medical education. If an organ is recovered and deemed not transplantable, we will work with the following agencies to donate the organ for research when the donor or donor’s family has granted authorization:

Bone marrow transplants can save the lives of patients with certain blood disorders, including leukemia and other marrow diseases. The National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) is a nonprofit organization that facilitates marrow and blood stem cell transplants for patients with life-threatening diseases who do not have matching donors in their families.

Since 1986, NMDP has facilitated more than 15,000 transplants throughout the United States. NMDP offers a single point of access for all sources of stem cells used in transplantation: marrow, peripheral blood and umbilical cord blood. To learn more about bone marrow donation, contact NMDP at 800-627-7692 or visit bethematch.org.

For more information about organ, eye and tissue donation, please call us at 800-366-6791.