Frequently Asked Questions
In choosing the opportunity to help others through cornea/eye and tissue donation, questions will arise about how the donation will help and what can be donated. The following encompasses some of the most frequently asked questions and their answers.
I wear glasses. Can I still donate my corneas or eyes?
Yes, the cornea is the clear portion in front of the eye. Being “near-sighted” or “far-sighted” (conditions which cause the need for glasses or contacts) does not affect this window function.
I had cataracts and had surgery. Can I still donate?
It depends. TSC will evaluate each of these situations on an individual basis. Even if donation for transplant is not an option, it may be possible to donate for research purposes.
My eyesight was corrected by laser or Lasik surgery. Can my corneas be donated?
They most certainly could be valuable for research and teaching. Evaluation on an individual basis would be necessary for transplantation.
How successful are cornea transplants?
Corneal transplants are among the most successful of all transplants with a success rate greater than 85 percent. It is truly the gift of sight!
I heard you could only donate if you died in an intensive care unit. Is this true?
No. Organ donation does require the high level of medical support found in an ICU. However, tissue and eye donation does NOT require continuing medical support. In fact, tissue and eye donation can occur even if the death has occurred outside of a hospital.
I’m not familiar with tissue or eye donation. What can be donated?
Eye donation can involve either the whole eye or just the cornea. Tissue donation includes the heart for valves, plus bones, tendons, ligaments, vessels, and skin.
What is used for the valves in the heart?
When patients have heart valve problems it is often possible to repair this by using a donated heart valve. Due to congenital abnormalities, children frequently need heart valve replacements.
Does skin transplantation need to be race specific?
No. During skin procurement, a split-thickness layer of skin, approximately the thickness of two sheets of paper is taken for grafting to burns and other soft-tissue injuries. The recipient contributes the pigment to the skin as the wound heals.
What is the most common type of transplant?
Bone grafts are used daily in hospitals, surgical centers, and dental offices. Bone transplantation does not require extensive anti-rejection drugs.
Is my past medical history important?
Yes. The family will be asked to provide information on past medical history and Transplant Services Center will perform testing to assist in ensuring recipient safety.
Does donation affect funeral arrangements?
Donation is handled with the same surgical skill as if the person were alive. In addition, extreme care is taken with the restoration so that the family’s funeral arrangements need not be affected. During the entire process, the donor is treated with dignity and respect.
How much time does it take for a donation to be completed?
An eye-only donation takes only an hour to complete once the procedure begins. A full eye and tissue donor takes eight hours. Transplant Services Center works closely with family and the funeral home to ensure time parameters are understood and constraints met.
Is there any cost to donate?
No. There is no cost to the donor’s family as the result of donation. If there were previous hospital charges incurred during the patient’s treatment, these remain the responsibility of the donor’s family or estate. In addition, funeral costs and arrangements remain the responsibility of the family.
What do religions think about donation?
All major religions support donation. In fact, the major Protestant, Roman Catholic, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, and Muslim religions encourage donation.