Up to l00 lives can be improved with the help of a single bone donor. “Bone is used in many orthopedic, neurosurgical and plastic surgeries.” Hips and knees can be repaired and in some cases, bone can be used to prevent a limb from being amputated. Reconstructive surgeries and spinal fusion can be done using cadaver bones.
The gift of sight can be given by those who donate corneas. In the case of whole eye donation, as many as ten people can benefit and many different procedures can be performed. “The sclera, or white portion of the eye can be used in eye prosthesis or used to patch an eye that has been injured due to penetration.” Blindness can be prevented in a person with glaucoma.
Tissue and organ donation, though they differ in several ways, can both be life saving. Brain death does not have to occur in order to donate tissue. Tissue can be recovered from the deceased for up to twenty-four hours after patients are declared dead. The recovery procedure is done in a sterile environment and is considered a traditional surgery. For these reasons, tissue donation should be significant.
The Hillman Center for Pediatric Transplants at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh is the most highly recognized pediatric transplant center in the United States. It was established in 1981 under Dr. Thomas E. Starzl and was the first center of its kind. More organ transplants have been performed at Children’s than any other transplant hospital. Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh continues to offer patients and their families a great amount of hope due to the fact that their transplant program has some of the world’s highest survival rates.
The need for pediatric transplants is overwhelming. More than 250 children and teenagers are currently waiting for a heart transplant. Over 200 are in need of lungs, and 40 are desperately waiting for a heart-lung transplant. Children make up 4% of those on the national list waiting for a lung transplant, “6% waiting for a heart, and 18% who are in need of a heart-lung transplant.”
Children’s Hospital is known as the most active transplant center in the nation. In 1985, the first successful pediatric heart-lung transplant was performed at Children’s Hospital. Since that time, there have been over 1,600 pediatric liver transplants performed. Hundreds of kidney transplants have saved or enhanced the lives of children and teenagers. To date, Children’s has performed more than 300 thoracic surgeries, 200 of which have been pediatric heart transplants.
“Approximately 6 out of every 1,000 babies are born with congenital heart defects.” Often times, these problems cannot be repaired and require a transplant. Heart conditions that develop after a child is born can be the result of a virus, bacteria, and in the worst case Cardiomyopathy. “This causes the heart muscle to weaken and lose its ability to pump blood in an effective manner.” In many cases, transplants are the only option there is to give children a fighting chance.
The Center for Organ Recovery and Education (CORE) has headquarters in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Charleston, West Virginia serves Western Pennsylvania and surrounding areas. “Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, The Veteran’s Administration Medical Center, West Penn Allegheny Health System/Allegheny General, UPMC Presbyterian and Charleston Area Medical Center in West Virginia are five of the hospitals that can perform life saving transplants.” In these five hospitals alone, a staggering 4,000 patients are waiting for an organ to save their lives and another 1,000 are waiting for a cornea or tissue transplant.
Currently, there are 100,000 people on the national waiting list. Each year only 6,000 people donate. This results in the death of 10,000 to 12,000 people annually, despite the fact that they are suitable candidates. Every day, approximately 17 people will lose their battle due to a lack of organ donations.
There are many organs and types of tissue that can be used to enhance or save a life. “Heart, lungs, kidneys, livers, pancreases, stomach and intestines are the most common organs donated. Among the tissue most often donated are eyes, bones, skin, ligaments and tendons.” Arteries and heart valves are also commonly used in transplants, often times to save the lives of children.
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