Tissue is described as Cornea, Bone and tendons, Skin and Heart Valves and the donation thereof is facilitated by a Tissue bank. Different from organ donation, these tissues are retrieved from the donor after cardiac death and takes place between 12 hours and 5 days after death. It is therefore a myth that once the donor body is refrigerated that he/she cannot be a donor anymore. In the case of unnatural death, the retrieval of tissue often takes place after the Post Mortem examination.
Tissue donation make skin grafts possible for thousands of critically burned patients. Donated corneas avert or correct blindness. Donor heart valves help repair cardiac defects or damage. Bone, cartilage and tendon grafts help restore function, in people who would otherwise be incapacitated or disabled and are used to treat a wide range of medical conditions, such as maxillofacial and orthopaedic injury, spinal surgery, and treatment of trauma.
Everyone is a potential donor. Tissue is generally retrieved from people between 15 and 80 years, but Cornea and Heart valves can also be retrieved from small children.
The public is encouraged to discuss their thoughts about tissue donation with members of their family. Physicians and medical caregivers are encouraged to become familiar with the various donation possibilities and to pay close attention to the wishes of the family. Although not an easy task, offering the option to donation to a bereaved family often brings hope and encouragement in a hopeless situation.