A tissue donor’s veins or arteries can replace blood vessels that have been destroyed by disease or injury. Donated veins are most commonly used for heart bypass surgeries, repairing critical aneurysms, or diabetics who are threatened with losing a limb. For bypass surgeries, veins are inserted to detour the blood flow around a blockage, creating a new passageway for the blood to flow through the heart chambers. Not many people realize how many thousands of vascular transplants occur each year in the U.S. because of tissue donors’ donation of veins. For diabetics, surgeons can use a donor’s vein to recreate circulation in to a limb that otherwise would be amputated.
Normally, the vein found on the inside of the leg is the one most commonly donated. It’s called the “Saphenous Vein;” a long vein that runs all the way down the inside of the leg. Two other veins that are eligible for donation are the aortic and femoral arteries. These veins can be stored for up to two years before being transplanted.
It’s possible to use synthetic veins instead, however they tend to clog faster than donated human veins. Regardless, donated human veins and arteries help save thousands upon thousands of lives each year.
Register today to become a tissue donor and safe someone’s life.