The Difference Between Organ and Tissue Donation

Organ Donation

Organs are defined as : heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, pancreas
Beating heart donor
An Organ donor is called a Beating heart donor
An organ donor dies under specific circumstances, where they are declared brain dead, but their heart is still beating, which means their body can be kept alive with the assistance of life support machines until a recipient and transplant team can be arranged.
Organs cannot survive for more than a few hours outside of body death, hence the need for life support and transplantation as quickly as possible. Organ donors can also be tissue donors.
A small percentage of deaths occur under these circumstances.

Tissue Donation

Tissue is defined as: Cornea, skin, heart valves and bone.
Non-beating heart donor.
A person who has died and their heart has stopped beating is called a non heart beating donor and can potentially donate tissue.
Tissue can survive outside of body death, however the window of survival is very short for certain tissue and longer for others, hence the need for early retrieval of tissue after death.
Almost all deaths can be potential tissue donors, as long as the next of kin are aware of the short windows for retrieval and make contact with CTE as early as possible.

Windows For Viable Tissue Retrieval

We have suggested that the next of kin notify CTE within 12 hours of their loved ones passing, in order to make sure their loved ones wishes are followed through and their tissue can be retrieved early enough to be viable.
We suggest next of kin phone through even if they miss the 12 hour window as certain tissue have longer windows for retrieval.
These are the windows for viable tissue retrieval after death
Cornea: within 12 hours
Skin: within 24 hours
Heart valves: within 24-36 hours
Bone: up to 4-5 days
Whist we understand that making the call so soon after losing a loved will be an extremely difficult one, we believe that this can be alleviated by the next of kin being informed of the donors wishes, and understanding that by following their loved ones wishes, 60 others will benefit from their legacy.