Written on March 30, 2021
To learn more about tissue donation and its impact on the burn community, we connected with Linda Martin, Vice President of Tissue and Support Services at Mid-America Transplant. Linda shares the impact of tissue donation as well as ways for anyone in the burn community to help.
Tissue donation helps restore, improve, and save lives in countless ways. One tissue donor can save or enhance the lives of up to 75 or more recipients. Tissue donation includes the donation of corneas, skin, heart valves, musculoskeletal tissue (bone, tendons, ligaments), vascular tissue, and other tissues. Patients benefit from tissue donation when experiencing various life-threatening or serious medical conditions. Donations can restore hope, mobility, or sight to these patients.
At the time of death, determination of tissue eligibility is made by a tissue/organ procurement organization. Donation professionals access the state and national donor registries to see if the individual registered their decision to donate. The legal next of kin is contacted to confirm the individual’s decision or to honor the individual by authorizing a donation if a registry decision wasn’t previously made. Tissue donation takes place within 24 hours after death at the hospital or in an independent recovery center. Countless individuals can be tissue donor heroes at the time of death.
Skin grafting involves the transplantation of donated skin. The donated skin acts as a temporary covering for wounds caused by burns. This donated gift helps prevent infection, decrease pain, and speed healing.
The first step is to join either your local, state, or the national organ, tissue, and eye donor registry. 98% of Americans join the donor registry at their local Department of Motor Vehicles office. You can also find your state and the national registry online. The second step, equally as important, is to inform your family and close friends about your decision to donate. The second step ensures that they can support your decision at the appropriate time.
The burn community can advocate for tissue donation in a number of ways. First, they can register to become a donor and encourage others to register. Burn survivors who received the precious gift of tissue can speak about the life-saving and healing benefits of tissue donation. In addition, advocates for tissue donation are encouraged to become a member of the American Association of Tissue Bank’s Speaker Bureau, participate in Donate Life America public service announcements, speak to elected officials, join a Tissue Recipient Facebook group or educate others in a variety of ways.
As Vice President of Tissue and Support Services of Mid-America Transplant Services, Linda Martin oversees tissue and support services’ operations, including key partnerships between Mid-America Transplant and tissue processors across the United States. Throughout her tenure, MTS’ quality improvement efforts have resulted in numerous record-breaking numbers for tissue donations. With Martin’s continued focus on the mission to save lives through excellence in organ and tissue donation, MTS is recognized as one of the most successful tissue procurement organizations in the United States.