Giving Away to Those in Need: 7 Parts of Your Body You Can Donate to Make Someone’s Life Better


Being an organ donor is one way that you can do one last thing to make a difference in someone else’s life. In some instances, you don’t have to be dead in order to make a donation. Lung, kidney and pancreas donation are just some parts you can donate while you are alive. When you donate parts of your body, you are changing more than just the life of the recipient. You are also making a difference in the life of that person’s family.

1. Liver

Living without a liver or living with a diseased liver is very difficult. When a person has liver failure they may require a liver transplant to be able to lead a normal life without constant hospital stays and doctor visits. A liver can be donated from a deceased person or a portion of the liver of a living person can be donated. In recent history, there have been more liver transplants from living donors than ever before. In fact, the survival rate is much brighter for those who receive a transplant from a living donor rather than a deceased donor, not to mention the longer life expectancy post-transplant.

When a living liver transplant is performed, the donor typically donates the right lobe of their liver to the recipient, whose entire liver is removed and replaced with the donated segment. In the next 2 months or so, both the donor’s and recipient’s portion of the liver will grow to the size of a normal liver, allowing both parties to have fully functioning healthy livers that should be viable for many years to come.

2.  Eggs

Women can donate eggs to help women and couples with trouble conceiving or maintaining a healthy pregnancy. Egg donation is just one way you can help someone become a parent. There are many centers like that can facilitate the donation and receive donor eggs. To become an egg donor, you must meet some pretty strict criteria. These requirements include being between 21 and 32 years of age, having no STDs or history of drug use or smoking, and you must be of a healthy body weight and normal height.

If you pass the screening, then you and the recipient will go on birth control to synchronize your cycles. The donor will have to be injected with hormones for a short period of time before the eggs will be retrieved under light anesthesia. An egg donation cycle takes about 6 weeks to complete.

3. Blood Stem Cells

Blood stem cells are found in our bone marrow. As our bodies need them, they can become either white or red blood cells or platelets. When a person is diagnosed with leukemia or another blood disease, a transplant may be needed. Replacing defective stem cells with healthy stem cells can save a life. In order for this to work, the donor and the recipient must be closely matched.

Most blood stem cell transplants are collected directly from the donor’s bloodstream. The procedure is a lot like giving blood. A small machine processes the donor’s blood, collecting stem cells and returning the rest of the blood to the donor’s body. But stem cells can also be collected through a bone marrow transplant. The marrow is extracted from the donor’s pelvis during a surgical procedure.

4. Heart Valves

Heart valve donation is very important. When a child needs a heart valve replacement, there are several options, full heart transplant, a mechanical replacement or a valve transplant. A heart transplant means being put on immunosuppressants so that the body doesn’t reject the new heart, and a mechanical replacement means having to undergo several more surgeries because the artificial valve won’t be able to grow with the child. Heart valve replacement offers a better quality of life in addition to saving a life. It will grow with the child and eliminate the need for further surgeries.

Heart valves are removed after death, and they require meticulous dissection. They must be carefully inspected for calcification, hemoglobin staining and more they can be donated.

5. Cornea

The cornea is the outermost layer of your eye. It helps to focus light so you see clearly. It has three layers to it. Cornea transplants can involve all three layers being replaced or just one or two, full thickness or partial thickness corneal transplant. It is often an outpatient procedure done under localized anesthesia. Donating corneal tissue can help restore someone’s sight.

Cornea transplants involve the removal of the injured, bulging or scarred corneal tissue by injecting air to separate the layers and stitching on the donor cornea with thread finer than hair. The degree of injury, infection or vision loss will determine how much of the cornea needs to be replaced.

6. Lung

Lung donation is one of the many donations that you can make while you are still alive. People who suffer from a diseased or failing lung and have not responded well to other treatment are candidates for a lung transplant. The procedure can replace one or both lungs.

During the transplant, the diseased lung or lungs are removed and replaced with the donor lung or lungs. The recipient may be placed on a heart-lung machine to keep blood circulating through the body during the procedure. The next 3 months to a year are crucial to recovery, as is a healthy lifestyle and diet.

7. Hands

Hand transplants are one of the newest and perhaps one of the most surprising transplants available. This transplant is for people who have had one or both hands amputated. The donation comes from a deceased donor. It can help the recipient gain some hand function and sensation. Receiving a hand or hands is a lifelong commitment, as it requires special medications and routine physical therapy.

This surgery can take 18 to 24 hours and requires a team of surgeons. It requires the attaching of the bones with metal plates, the tendons, muscles, nerves and blood vessels. A special hand therapist will give the recipient physical therapy and offer exercises that the recipient will need to do on their own to help achieve and maintain optimal recovery.

For more information on organ and tissue donation there are tons of success stories to warm your heart and information to help you make your decision. You can also find out about how to become an organ donor or how to donate specific organs through your legal will.

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