Tissue Series: Donated Heart Valves

First of all, what does a heart valve do exactly? Your heart has four chambers that pump blood through your heart. There are four heart valves that help pump blood through those chambers. When someone needs a heart valve replacement, it’s because one or more of their valves have either become too narrow for blood to pump through, or they were born with abnormal valves; (most of the time children are in need of valve replacements because of a birth abnormality).

By becoming a tissue donor, any of your four heart valves have the potential to save someone’s heart, by allowing it to pump blood properly.

There are three different valve options for someone needing a valve replacement: pig valves, mechanical valves, or human valves. Human valves are preferred because there are fewer disadvantages to the recipient.

Can you imagine being able to become a hero to a child in need of a working heart? What a wonderful and thoughtful legacy to leave behind. Imagine the family of a recipient who’s mother or father you can save by becoming a tissue donor.

Have a heart. Save a heart. Register today.

Tissue Series: The Impact of Cornea Tissue Donation

You may not remember the first time you opened your eyes and took your first peak at the world, but someone else could. Everyone has the potential to be a tissue donor; in this case, to donate your corneas so someone is able to see again or continue seeing after a traumatic eye injury.

First of all, you don’t need impeccable vision to donate. You just need your corneas, even if your vision is poor. Also, you can be any age to donate them. Cornea tissue can’t be replicated like some other tissues, which is why they must be donated and why there is such high need for them.

To clarify, your cornea is what helps you focus on people and objects on a daily basis. It is NOT your whole eye; it’s the area on the top surface of the eye.

If you’re wondering what exactly your cornea would be used for – that’s a great question. Corneas are used to correct someone’s poor eyesight that might have been caused by diseases or injuries. If it weren’t for people donating their corneas for transplants, thousands and thousands of people would be blind.

Register today to become a tissue donor and you could help someone see again, or maybe even for the first time. Join the movement. Become the gift.

50 Voices: Brittany’s Story

Raquel is proud of her daughter, Brittany, who is our newest face on our “Wall of Life.” Brittany was only 19 years old when she passed away, but she left behind an unforgettable legacy of life.

Brittany’s donated organs and tissue have helped numerous amounts of people of all ages who were suffering from disease or injury:

“Brittany’s donation consisted of orthopedic tissues which are used to hasten recovery in individuals suffering from bone or spine disease or injuries. Many bone grafts can be generated from one tissue door. In the case of Brittany’s gift the donation records indicate the creation of numerous bone grafts which have been, and will continue to be used to perform reconstructive surgery, spinal fusions and oral surgery. The records also indicate that all of these grafts have been distributed throughout the country to states such as California, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Missouri, Kentucky, Virginia, Ohio and Washington DC.

 Brittany’s donation also consisted of cardiac tissue (heart valves). Cardiac tissue is used to benefit children with complex heart defects, as well as adults with heart disease. The records indicate that Brittany’s gift of cardiac tissues were distributed to medical facilities in Missouri and Pennsylvania in July and October of 2008.

 Brittany’s gift of skin has enabled surgeons to perform reconstructive surgeries for individuals who have suffered severe burns. These grafts have been distributed to medical facilities in Virginia and Iowa.”

 Recently, Brittany’s mother, Raquel also received a letter from one of Brittany’s recipients:

“Dear Donor Family,

I do not know if you gratitude can help your healing, but I want you to know you and your loved one have made my life better. Before my surgery, I could not walk without being in pain: hopefully I will be back participating in sports and walking normally. I pray for your family when I go to Mass each week. I will dedicate more time to helping others as soon as I am able. Thank you so much. I will be an organ donor as soon as I am able. My parents have been for a long time.

Thank you,

 Three other recipients were also saved due to Brittany’s donation:
Erica received Brittany’s right kidney, Joseph received Brittany’s left kidney and pancreas, and Kimberly received Brittany’s liver. Raquel finds peace knowing that her daughter saved countless lives with the most precious gift; life.

To read Brittany’s whole story click here.