Life Donation – Your Questions Answered

 

April marks Organ & Tissue Donation Awareness Month and I would venture to guess that most of us are pretty unaware of this life saving act. I’m hopeful that by the time you finish reading this, you will know more than you did before.

Photo Courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/zamanyahre

Photo Courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/zamanyahre

Most of us know that organ donation saves lives – we hear about it in the media & some of us know someone who has benefited from this most amazing gift. But did you know that lives are saved and enhanced by TISSUE donation as well? A tissue donation can consist of skin, bone, cartilage, connective tendons and ligaments and up to 50 people can be helped with just 1 gift.

How amazing is that? I never knew about tissue donation until my ex-husband’s first motorcycle accident. He received cadaveric bone grafts in his arm. With his second accident, he received cadaveric bone grafts in his leg. Thanks to these generous donations, he was able to keep his limbs maintain his normal range of motion, continue with his daily activities & make a full recovery. Skin donations allow burn & accident victims to recover more quickly & thoroughly by providing a much needed barrier to prevent infection. It allows babies who are born with cleft palates and receive this tissue, a chance that the gap will close and heal effectively and the external disfigurement will only be slight. Cartilage donations restore mobility & corneal donations restore sight. Tendon and Ligaments allow reconstruction for athletes to continue playing sports and not be permanently handicapped from previous damage due to injury. AMAZING!

I reached out to my dear friend Adena Evans, CTBS of Genesis Tissue Services to answer some questions & promote awareness of organ & tissue donation.

(Me!) Carrie – “What misconceptions about donation would you like to dispel?”

Photo Courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/IvelinRadkov

Photo Courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/IvelinRadkov

Adena – “Most organized religions support donation. Procuring the donation is done with complete respect for the donor & any special requests by the family for personal or religious beliefs are honored. Also, organs cannot be sold. They are considered a gift according to the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act which prohibits buying, selling or trading organs and/or tissue. Also, not everyone is a suitable donor – there are strict screening & testing guidelines for potential donors set forth by the FDA to protect the recipients. Donations & procurement companies are highly regulated by the Federal, State and Local Governmental agencies, and include strict guidelines set forth by; United Network for Organ Sharing, Organ Procurement Organizations, American Association of Tissue Banks and Eye Bank Association of America.”

Carrie – “If the donations can’t be used in their whole form for direct transplant, what happens to them?”

Adena – “Donors that have given their expressed consent to donate have the opportunity to have that gift utilized for maximum benefit. If the donor is found to be unsuitable for transplantation the gift of authorized organs and tissue can be used for the purpose of education development and/or scientific research.

They have the technology to compound bone tissue to make into powders or injectable liquids that can repair or enhance a recipients own bone structure to support as well as promote healing, while fighting infection or disease at the same time.

Those donations that were not found to be suitable for transplantation made these medical improvements possible through education and research. Processors, scientists and doctors developed life saving techniques through the generous act of kindness and the willingness to participate in Donate Life and GIVE this GIFT to others.

Carrie – “How do you become a donor?”

Adena – “Easy. By registering as a donor with any of the major donation organizations.

Photo: KQED News

Photo: KQED News

There are currently 11 million registered donors on donatelifecalifornia.org & each state has their own official registry. You can register with the Department of Motor Vehicles when you get your CA State drivers license or Identification Card. Having the pink sticker on your driver’s license is a great start, but registering as a donor is crucial. Each registered donor’s family is respectfully consulted on their loved one’s desire to donate. But, ultimately the decision is theirs. Every registered donor must let their family know of their wishes to be a donor so that their decision is supported if & when the time comes. It takes the burden away from the family should they not fully understand your desire to want to donate and help others. Communication with family is the key in having your final wishes fulfilled.”

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Photo Courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/stockyimages

I am a big fan of organ & tissue donation- not only as someone who has personally benefited from it but as a humanitarian. We aren’t limited to just donating money, useful things or our time to help others, we can donate LIFE. I know that if I needed a donation, I would accept it with all the gratitude that is within me. And in return, I want to offer all that I have, all that I AM, to help & save others. Won’t you please join me?

|| what do you think?

How do you feel about organ & tissue donation?

Have you or a loved one benefited from a donation?

Please share your thoughts & feelings on organ & tissue donation. Thank you!

By | 2014-04-29T20:08:18-07:00 April 29th, 2014|Inspiration, News, Planning Ahead, Resources & Information|45 Comments

45 Comments

  1. Mitch April 30, 2014 at 10:03 am - Reply

    I didn’t realize the extent of parts availability & usage. What a wonderful way to help someone. The medical community is making great strides in being able to use the different donations. Many people have benefitted from someone else’s generosity. Thanks for keeping the rest of us informed.

    Mitch

  2. Mark April 30, 2014 at 10:04 am - Reply

    Hi Carrie….Thank you for shedding some light on organ and tissue donation….It is amazing to think how many lives can be touched by one person….a thought for all of us to think about….thanks, Mark

  3. Anne Anderson Collins April 30, 2014 at 10:22 am - Reply

    Hi Carrie
    Interesting topic and I know that you know more about it than anyone here. I know that those who have not previously made that decision need to make it quickly, once the death has occurred so the tissue will be fresh and as healthy as possible, correct?
    So important to know that even in death we can help others live better..
    Love you
    Anne

  4. Patricia Kolstad April 30, 2014 at 10:40 am - Reply

    Carrie . . what a wonderful blog.
    Education, as we all know, helps us to make much better decisions along our life’s path. Bringing the importance of organ and tissue donation to light and explaining how well it is controlled is so important. Thank you too, for the perfect interview with Adena Evans. There’s nothing better than having an expert provide the assurance we would need to make that kind of decision on behalf of a loved one in need, or a loved one that could possibly be a donor.
    When I was still doing Community Development, our Educational Consultant, Dr. Bill Hoy, introduced me to Michelle Post, who is the Clinical Aftercare Specialist for OneLegacy, a Donate Life Organization. I learned so much about the incredible gift of life that families of donors provide. It is heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. For them, the heartbreak of a death, but the extraordinary gift they choose to give another that ends up being the indisputable Legacy of the one who died.
    You chose well in providing this information to all. I do hope that this blog reaches the masses and those who read will consider becoming a donor. Thank you!
    With great respect . . .
    Pat

  5. Lauren April 30, 2014 at 11:02 am - Reply

    Wow! Carrie thank you so much for writing about this. I never knew that bone tissue can be compounded and used to help repair bone structures! I think that it’s so great that people have the opportunity to help save lives through organ and tissue donations. Thanks for sharing some awesome information about this!

    • Carrie Bayer May 10, 2014 at 11:38 am - Reply

      Lauren, it’s fascinating, isn’t it? I had no idea either until my reckless ex-husband needed it- twice! Not only did he receive the cadaveric bone grafts, he also received the compounded bone which was bone powder mixed with strong medications to promote healing & deter infection. I was in awe of the whole scenario & truly grateful for the donors who made his healing possible. Thank you! Carrie

  6. Joanna Ramirez April 30, 2014 at 11:14 am - Reply

    Carrie,

    Interesting blog. Good interviewing with Adena and educating the public on what tissue donations are really about. I think most people think that these organizations simply take the organs and sell them. Of course, that is not the case and it is good to have information like this out for people to know. Thank you for the informative interview.

    • Carrie Bayer May 10, 2014 at 11:36 am - Reply

      Thank you, Joanne- you’re right, a lot of people believe the urban legend that organs & tissues are sold (or stolen- yikes!) but hopefully thru blogs, accurate articles & first-person testimonials, we can dispel the fear that comes with that belief. Thank you for your comments! Carrie

  7. Becky Finch Lomaka April 30, 2014 at 11:44 am - Reply

    Hi Carrie,
    Love this blog! I, too, am a huge advocate for organ and tissue donation. You are so right when you say we can “donate LIFE”! What an amazing gift to give someone; and so many people are affected by that gift – the donor’s family, the person receiving the transplant, his or her family – it goes on and on. Our family made the decision to donate my brother’s organs when we took him off life support. We knew it was what he would have wanted and it was a good feeling to know that through his death, others were helped.

    Becky

    • Carrie Bayer May 10, 2014 at 11:32 am - Reply

      Becky, I’m so thankful that your family gave the gift of life thru your tragedy. I know that many other families will be forever grateful for your choice & that you all will be blessed greatly for it. Families like yours are the best advocates for this amazing gift, with the recipient families right there by your side cheering you on with gratitude. Thank you for sharing your story, Becky! Carrie

  8. Rosemary April 30, 2014 at 12:38 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much, Carrie, for sharing all of this information! I had no idea how much good can be done for so many people through organ and tissue donation, and I’m sure I am not alone. This is such a very important topic for all of us to know more about.

    • Carrie Bayer May 10, 2014 at 11:29 am - Reply

      Rosemary, I’m so glad you found this blog informative. Most people really don’t know what donation entails & how many lives are saved by this amazing gift- until they are a recipient directly or have a loved one who receives the gift. Thank you so much for commenting! Carrie

  9. Lori April 30, 2014 at 1:22 pm - Reply

    Carrie,
    Thank you for educating us further on organ donation. I remember years ago hearing from a friend’s husband that if you are a donor, they won’t try as hard to save you at the hospital if you are in an accident, etc. I know that sounds ridiculous, but that is one of those myths that stuck with me. Thank you for sharing all of the ways people can benefit from the gift of donation. What a beautiful gift to give to others after your life here on earth has ended….
    XOXO Lori

    • Carrie Bayer May 10, 2014 at 11:27 am - Reply

      Lori, I’ve heard that rumor/urban legend as well & it makes me sad that there are people who would encourage such a thought but I can easily see how it would be frightening to hear of & believe. You just never know nowadays, especially when you hear of what happens in other places in the world. I hope that some of the uneasiness that people might feel about donation is dissipated because of this blog. Thank you for sharing! Love, Carrie

  10. Erin Fodor April 30, 2014 at 3:37 pm - Reply

    Carrie,

    My father was a donor when he was killed. Its an awesome feeling to know that someone
    out there has a better life because of the donation my father was able to give. I know there wasn’t much he could donate due to the state of his body from the accident. But I know he would be happy to help anyone in need. I myself am a donor as well. Thanks for all the information on the benefits of donating.

    • Carrie Bayer May 10, 2014 at 11:23 am - Reply

      Erin, I’m so glad to hear that your family gave the gift of life at your time of great loss & grief. I’m so sorry that you even had to think of donation at such a young age. My heart goes out to you & your family, as well as my deepest thanks. XOXOX Carrie

  11. Tom May 1, 2014 at 8:11 am - Reply

    Thank you, Carrie, for educating me about tissue donation. My cousin died after surgery and donated some of his organs. The family found gratitude by helping others when they told me about their donation. I heard the gratitude in their voices

    • Carrie Bayer May 7, 2014 at 9:02 pm - Reply

      Tom, I’m so sorry to hear about your cousin dying in surgery. What a wonderful but heartbreaking decision his next of kin had to make. But I’m so grateful to hear that your family was glad to help others thru their loss- what an amazing example for us all to follow! Thank you for sharing your story, Tom. Carrie

  12. Fitz May 1, 2014 at 8:52 am - Reply

    HI Carrie,
    What an informative blog! Thanks for the information about a great way to give back. I know of a # of my daughter’s soccer friends who have torn their ACL and it was replaced by a cadaveric ligament. It was amazing to me to watch how they could recover 100% from such a damaging injury. I can only imagine how the surviving family of the donor would feel knowing a part of their loved one was alive and helping others.
    Thanks!
    Fitz

    • Carrie Bayer May 7, 2014 at 8:59 pm - Reply

      Fitz, you have seen the benefits of tissue donation much more than most people. In fact, you could have been a recipient yourself when you popped your achilles tendon. Thankfully, you healed up on your own. But, you would have had this option if you needed it. Isn’t that a great thought? I like to believe that the donor families are comforted by knowing that their gift in their loss has saved someone in need. Thank you! Carrie

  13. Molly Keating May 1, 2014 at 9:40 am - Reply

    Carrie,
    I love how you always open my mind up to new topics I’d never given a lot of thought to but definitely wondered about. The questions you address are so interesting – I had no idea that donations like these could be made and that bodies could continue to be “life-giving” even after they’ve died. Isn’t this world just so poetic?

    Thanks for the discovery & information – beautiful blog.

    Molly

    • Carrie Bayer May 7, 2014 at 8:18 pm - Reply

      Molly, one of these days I’m really going to blow your mind! How scary is that thought? It’s tough to make a big impact on such a deep topic but I tried to keep it short, sweet & to the point. Adena is truly the one who made this blog. Without her expertise, it wouldn’t have been nearly so informative. I agree that it is poetic that even after death, life can still be given- and to many, many people! Thank you for all of your help, Molly! Carrie

  14. Joe Lavoie May 1, 2014 at 10:07 am - Reply

    Carrie
    I appreciate you sharing on such an important subject, I have not been involved directly with a donation in our family however I can see how important it would be to help those in need. I would be very open to this for myself and again thank you so much for educating me further.
    Sincerely
    Joe Lavoie

    • Carrie Bayer May 7, 2014 at 8:12 pm - Reply

      Joe, I’m so glad you are open to becoming a registered donor! It truly is a miraculous gift for so many people. I hope nobody ever finds themselves in need of a donation but I do know that if they do, it will get them to see how important it is to be willing to donate to others. It all starts within us. Then the example will be followed & others will join in. Thank you! Carrie

  15. Chuck Ricciardi May 1, 2014 at 10:15 am - Reply

    Carrie,

    Thanks for enlightening us on the numerous benefits and usage of organ, bone and tissue donations. I know the huge benefit it is to the living and we never know when we might be the ones in need. I have to admit at first I was a little taken back by this process. (And this is coming from a funeral director of over two decades) Is the body to remain whole after death? But the huge benefits and life giving gift that it is, has shown me it’s positive and powerful outcomes out way any concerns I had. This process is also done in a dignified matter and does not take away form any healing and meaningful moments from families. Way to educate and expand horizons Carrie!

    Love,
    Chuck

    • Carrie Bayer May 7, 2014 at 8:09 pm - Reply

      Chuck, I’m so glad you have had a change of heart on the topic of organ & tissue donation. Any chance of you registering as a donor now? I’m kidding, I know you’ll have to work up to that step, but maybe one day it will be something you will want to do. I just can’t help but think that someday I might need to be a recipient of this amazing gift & I most definitely will want to pay it forward to the next person who needs help. Thank you, Chuck! Carrie

  16. Shayna Mallik May 2, 2014 at 2:38 pm - Reply

    Carrie,

    Wow, what a great blog. This blog was so informative! I never knew anything about being a donor. It is a wonderful thing people do to help save other lives. Thank you for teaching us all about this subject. Also big thanks goes to your friend for answering your questions!!!
    Shayna

    • Carrie Bayer May 7, 2014 at 8:04 pm - Reply

      Shayna, I’m so glad you learned something from my blog! That makes me feel like I truly am getting the info out there. And, the info can be shared! And, yes- a big thanks to Adena! Without her expertise, this blog wouldn’t have been much, if anything. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Carrie

  17. Kari Lyn Leslie May 2, 2014 at 2:49 pm - Reply

    CB,
    Great information! I always wondered how One Legacy knew to call us. Never did I realize there was a State registry. I have listed myself as a donor at the DMV, but I will take that next step and register at Donate Life.
    Thank you so much for sharing both you and Adena’s expertise with us.
    oxoxox
    kari

    • Carrie Bayer May 7, 2014 at 8:00 pm - Reply

      Kari, I’m so excited that you are registering with the state to be a donor! Thank you so much for giving of yourself to help others. It is so important that the resources be available & we are still way under supplied but in time, the registry will grow. One day, there will be plenty of donations for all that need them. Just think of how many lives will be saved! Thank you, Kari! Carrie

  18. Diana May 2, 2014 at 2:51 pm - Reply

    Carrie,
    Thank you for illuminating us on the Organ & Tissue donors. It’s very calming to understand the details that all of us may be in hesitation about.
    We distrust companies like this, that are just trying to save lives.
    Donate LIFE!

    • Carrie Bayer May 7, 2014 at 7:56 pm - Reply

      Diana, I believe it is human nature to distrust what we don’t know or understand. That is part of why I chose this topic. I enjoy getting the truth out there about taboo or scary subjects. It takes away their power over us & helps us to see how truly beneficial some things are. I’m hopeful that people feel better about donating or even receiving donations. Donate LIFE! Carrie

  19. Christopher Iverson May 2, 2014 at 3:44 pm - Reply

    Carrie,
    Great information. It helped me understand the process and importance of being a donor. Thank you.

    • Carrie Bayer May 7, 2014 at 7:53 pm - Reply

      Chris, I’m so glad you got something out of my blog. If we don’t talk about organ & tissue donation, we can’t expect it to be something we ourselves can benefit from one day. There won’t be any donations for us. That is why it’s so important to dispel the myths, alleviate the doubts & get the facts out there. Now, let’s get you signed up! Carrie

  20. Michael Thomas May 2, 2014 at 4:09 pm - Reply

    CB,
    “… we can donate LIFE.” Very Powerful. Thank you for letting me see the donation process I myself am signed up in, in a different light. Very inspiring and almost serving as a confirmation that what I’m doing as a donor is being a contributor. Thank you so much.

    Michael

    • Carrie Bayer May 7, 2014 at 7:49 pm - Reply

      Michael, I’m so happy to hear that you are already a registered donor! It truly is powerful to know that you are ready & willing to help save lives should the opportunity present itself. No time soon, I hope! But, you can be an awesome example for others to follow simply by being a registered donor. Let’s spread the word & lead others to contributing, too! Thank you, Michael! Carrie

  21. neil May 3, 2014 at 9:02 am - Reply

    Hi Carrie –
    Thank you for creating a blog that shares the benefits of Organ & Tissue donations! Most people do not realize how beneficial these donations can be. I am glad to donate any part of my body to help someone else, just make sure I am long gone before you give any parts away.

    • Carrie Bayer May 7, 2014 at 7:44 pm - Reply

      Neil, so I actually have to wait until your gone? Darn! Just kidding- I personally will make sure you don’t have anything procured too early. I’m so glad you are on board with organ & tissue donation, it is such an amazing gift to give to our fellow humans. It really blows my mind to know just how many people can benefit from just one person’s donation- amazing! Thanks, Neil! Carrie

  22. Elsa May 5, 2014 at 11:51 am - Reply

    Hello Carrie,
    Great read. Ever since we went together to the One Legacy Seminar a few years back, I’ve seen donation in a different light. It truly is a gift to offer someone in need something so priceless. I however have mixed feelings about myself being a donor. I do feel that it is a feeling that may change over time and I do see how powerful it is to be a donor but it really is a big decision to make. Great topic to share on:)

    • Carrie Bayer May 7, 2014 at 7:40 pm - Reply

      Elsa, that’s right- we did go to the One Legacy seminar years ago, I almost forgot about that. I remember that we learned so much about donation & how we, as embalmers, could still make the donor look amazing. Becoming a registered donor is a huge decision & not an easy one at that. It’s highly personal & isn’t for everyone. But the fact that you’re thinking about it is awesome! I’m glad you liked my blog- thank you! Carrie

  23. Carrie Bayer May 7, 2014 at 7:47 pm - Reply

    Hi Stace- thank you for reading my blog. I’m hopeful that it helped dispel some of the doubts you have had & that in time, you feel better & better about donation. I didn’t think much about it until it saved my ex-husband’s arm & leg. That’s when I truly understood how valuable these gifts are. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Carrie

  24. Carrie Bayer May 10, 2014 at 11:21 am - Reply

    Adena, I can’t thank you enough for all the amazing info about donation & for also taking the time to give me much needed edits. I so appreciate your help. I’m also grateful for your continued friendship after all of these years. Thank you for helping me get the word out about donation & Genesis! I love you dearly! Carrie

  25. Jenn May 11, 2014 at 2:17 pm - Reply

    Reading Elsa’s comment below I think attending a One Legacy seminar would be fascinating! I have a girlfriend who’s daughter received donor skin at Ronald MacDonald House for a burn and wow what a difference it makes, instead of this poor little girl who will already face teen insecurities having burns all over her backside she has new generating skin working with the cadaver skin that will heal over time producing minimal scarring. I appreciate those who donate to help and hope to make a difference when my time comes as well.

  26. Amy May 12, 2014 at 11:42 am - Reply

    Carrie,
    I am a registered donor and I feel very strongly about being able to help others in this way. What an amazing gift you can give to another human being and their family. Also a gift to your family for you to be able to live on in someone else. Donate LIFE……. a true blessing.
    Amy

  27. Shasta Cola May 13, 2014 at 2:50 pm - Reply

    Carrie,
    Great blog, I am glad you are shedding some light on organ donation for everyone. It does seem a bit unglamorous to people who see it but don’t understand the full scope of how many people will be helped by what that person donated. I see organ donors as true heroes giving what they will not need anymore to people who do.

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