The Donation Process
When a death occurs in a hospital, the hospital is required by federal law to report the death. When this happens, donor agencies like The Tissue Center will contact the hospital to evaluate the patient for donor suitability. Referral calls may also originate from a medical examiner, justice of the peace, hospice care, or even a funeral director.
The Tissue Center staff operates on an on-call basis 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
Every referral is evaluated as a potential donor based on medical and social history, age, and other criteria set forth by the FDA, the American Association of Tissue Banks, and additional graft-specific medical criteria. If additional information is needed, the family service coordinator will consult with physicians, medical staff, and family members to acquire the needed information. Some potential donors may be determined unsuitable for donation due to certain transmissible diseases, infections, malignancy, toxic exposure, IV drug abuse, HIV, autoimmune disease, and high-risk behaviors. It is our mission to provide the community with only the safest, highest quality tissue for transplant.
After screening of the potential donor has been accomplished, the family service coordinator will contact the legal next-of-kin to offer the option of donation. The coordinator provides as much information as necessary for families to make an informed decision without exerting pressure or bias. In all cases, the family decides what will or will not be donated. Consent may take place in person or may be obtained and recorded by telephone. During the consent process, the family service coordinator will discuss which tissues may be donated, how they may may be used, the surgical procedure, and address any concerns the family may have about the donation process.
In the state of Texas, the law does allow organ and tissue donation without family consent if a person has signed up on the Donate Life Texas registry. However, many agencies still defer to the family out of respect for their loved one and to maintain public trust in the donation system. This is why it is vitally important that you make your wishes known to your family. The legal next-of-kin (i.e., spouse, adult children, parents, adult siblings, etc.) makes the final decision about donation on your behalf.
For families who have not discussed donation in advance, this can be a very difficult time. We encourage everyone to learn the facts about donation, make a personal choice, and discuss it with their loved ones so their wishes may be carried out. The Tissue Center's Hand It Down program is a useful method of informing your next-of-kin of your wish to save and enhance lives. Our hope is that you will share your life and share your decision as well as sign up on the Donate Life Texas registry.
Surgical Recovery Of Tissue
Tissues are surgically recovered by a team of healthcare professionals in an aseptic environment following guidelines and standards established by the American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB) and the Association of Operating Room Nurses (AORN). Tissue recovery may take place in a hospital operating room or morgue, funeral home, or other surgical site. During the entire process, the donor's body is treated with the utmost dignity and respect.
The surgical recovery team will replace many of the recovered tissues with a suitable prosthesis to maintain the natural shape of the tissues recovered. The Tissue Center works closely with funeral homes to ensure that the family's requests are handled appropriately and according to the family's wishes.