Do you have questions or comments for our team? Would you like to know more about organ donation and transplantation?
Contact the organizations listed below:
Be sure to see common Questions on the Understanding Donation page.
I am a registered nursing student that will be giving a presentation on organ donation and transplants. How can I find videotapes and literature for my presentation?
The quickest way to obtain materials is to contact your local Coalition chapter. Link to the Coalition on Donation website and find the local contact for your state or region.
If I have a repaired or replaced heart valve can I still donate my heart?
If you had a mechanical or pig valve replacement, they would not be able to use the heart for transplant. However, if it was simply repaired in some way and was functioning ok at the time of your death, then a heart surgeon might consider it for transplant. Bottom line is that all of these decisions about organ suitability are made at the time of death. It would be important that your next of kin be prepared to share your medical history so that transplant surgeons can make the right decisions about using any donated organs.
If a pediatric liver transplant is successful, how long is the patient expected to live? Aren't the immunosuppressive drugs hard on the new organ?
B. Johnson, Colorado
You don't have to look back that far to see the beginning of pediatric liver transplantation. In fact, it wasn't really until the late 80s and early 90s when a lot of pediatric liver transplants began to take place. So, there isn't an easy answer to your question about how long a patient will live. There are certainly many pediatric patients with 15 or more years of life with transplanted livers. The drugs you refer to prevent the body from rejecting the organ, and yes there are side effects to these drugs. The doctors are constantly adjusting a patient's meds to prevent rejection while also minimizing affect on other organ systems. The future may hold some promising way to really trick the body into accepting transplanted organs, but for now patients have to deal with the side effects of current medications.
Is an organ donor at risk of not receiving the proper treatment to save his/her life? Is there organ trafficking in the U.S.?
An important fact to recognize is that transplants – because of their complexity – occur under great scrutiny with multiple medical specialties involved. It takes many people (physicians, surgeons, nurses, etc) to conduct a transplant and then care for a transplant patient for years afterwards. So, the idea that there could be some kind of conspiracy to illegally take organs from people and perform “backroom” transplants simply doesn't work when you understand that it would take hundreds of people to conspire.
Paramedics and emergency personnel in hospitals have absolutely nothing to gain from transplantation. In fact, one of the traditional barriers to organ donation over the years has been the lack of support for organ donation within trauma and emergency settings in hospitals. Also, hospital physicians typically do not know when someone is a donor because donor cards and drivers licenses with the donor designation rarely make it into the hands of physicians.