Donor Families & Recipients
Offering hope, strength, and connections through honoring the Gift of Sight and Healing.
As a donor family member, you are an important part of the Lions Eye Institute for Transplant and Research family. Lions Eye Institute is a nonprofit organization that transforms lives by restoring sight to people with visual impairments and improving the quality-of-life for tissue recipients through the gift of eye and tissue donation. Your loved one’s gift of eye and tissue donation combined with your support makes our mission possible.
It is our privilege to serve you and honor your loved one’s memory, as the bridge between tissue donation and transplantation. At Lions Eye Institute, our work includes cornea and tissue recovery, donor family and recipient services, cornea preparation, research, surgeon training, and innovative technologies driven by the needs of patients and their surgeons. We continually use our expertise and the support of our community to expand transplantation services, while honoring our tissue donors and their families.
Your stories highlight the incredible impact of tissue donation.
Takeeya Woods Story
“I’m most excited about waking up and actually being able to see my kids because in the morning, I would like to look at their faces. Some people take it for granted, but especially in the morning I can’t see anything my eyes are hurting from the day before. I am waiting for the day where I can just wake up and get the day started”- Takeeya Woods
Mathew Bunch Story
“The majority of his organs were not able to be donated, but his eyes were. He was a huge advocate of being an organ donor, it was something he was super passionate about. Matthew believed “Live Life Give Life” He wanted everyone to know how many people could be helped through organ donation.”– Donor Family
“April had a giving spirit she was a loving mother and my best friend. After spending 20 years as a licensed optician she decided to be a stay-at-home mom. April fought breast cancer like a warrior for nearly two years. Cornea donation was important to her so she gracefully gifted sight to two individuals after passing away in hospice care. That legacy will forever live in our hearts.” –Donor Husband, Raymer
Tissue donation restores sight, mobility, independence, and quality of life.
We value the generosity of families who choose donation. Their decision, and the decision of our donors, helps us continue our mission of improving, restoring, and connecting lives.
We recognize that donor families have a variety of needs for bereavement support, contact with transplant recipients, information regarding the donation process, and for opportunities to share their experiences with others
One tissue donor can restore health to over 75 people and one cornea donor can restore sight to 2 individuals. Each year, approximately 39,000 tissue donors provide lifesaving and healing tissue for transplant. Approximately 1.75 million tissue transplants are performed each year. Tissue and eye donation can be the silver lining for donor families.
Benefits of Tissue Donation
Allograft tissue taken from one person for transplantation into another. This can include bone, tendons, ligaments, skin & heart valves. Allografts have been used successfully in various medical procedures for more than 150 years. About 1.5 million allografts are transplanted each year in the United States.
Second to blood, musculoskeletal tissue is the most commonly transplanted tissue. For millions of Americans, tissue transplants have relieved their pain, returned their mobility, preserved their limbs and prevented amputation and saved lives. Donated corneas can restore the sight of someone suffering from blindness.
With thousands of tissue transplants per day performed at hospitals across the United States, procedures using tissue are very common.
Allografts are a natural alternative to synthetic and metal implants. However, unlike synthetic or metal implants, allografts incorporate into the body. Another choice surgeons have is an autograft, which takes tissue from one part of the body for transplantation to another part. Using an allograft eliminates the need for a second surgery site – avoiding additional pain, risk and possible longer hospital stay.
Donated Human Tissue
Donations of bone tissue can be used to repair bone defects or fractures caused by severe trauma, cancer or other diseases. Bone tissue can be widely used to restore mobility, reconstruct limbs and rebuild jaws in dental procedures.
Bone tissues that are typically recovered during donation include the long bones from the arms and legs, as well as the hip bones.
Donations of connective tissues such as ligaments, tendons and cartilage can be used to rebuild joints and restore cartilage surfaces. Patients injured in sporting activities, by trauma or through arthritis or other diseases can benefit from restored mobility and can regain independence in daily activities.
Connective tissues are typically recovered from the joints in the leg and arm.
Donations of membrane tissues include skin (dermis), pericardium and fascia lata. Donated skin can be used as a life-saving covering for severely burned patients, providing a natural barrier to infection. Skin can also be used in open heart and urological surgeries, abdominal wall repair and post-mastectomy breast reconstruction.
Cardiovascular tissues include heart valves, veins and arteries. The transplantation of heart valves can be a life-saving procedure for patients suffering from inherited heart defects or heart damage due to infection. The aortic and pulmonic valves are removed from the donated heart and then specially preserved until a matching recipient is identified. Donated heart valves are able to be preserved for months or even years.
Veins and arteries are used in heart bypass surgery to reestablish blood circulation in patients with coronary artery disease, and donated veins can help avoid amputation
For more assistance please call our donation support center at 813.289.1200
Letters to Donor Families or Recipients
Many donor families ask whether they can have contact with their loved one’s recipients. Some wonder how their loved one’s recipients are doing months and years after the transplant or wish they knew how many people were helped with their loved one’s tissue, such as bone and skin.
If your loved one donated tissue, such as corneas, heart valves, veins, skin and/or bone, we can request a tissue update if it has been over nine months since your loved one’s donation.
Professional partners like hospitals, medical examiners and funeral homes all play critical role in the tissue and eye donation process by supporting donors and their families.
Thank you for the important work you do and the impact you make while serving our community. Your dedication and support are greatly appreciated and important to us, as well as the partnership we share.
Lions Eye Institute for Transplant and Research is committed to maintaining excellent collaborative working relationships with our many hospital and healthcare partners. It is the organization’s goal to ensure that hospital partners feel fully prepared and knowledgeable about organ, tissue and eye donation practices and can support patients and families along the entire donation and transplant continuum of care.
We look forward to working together to continue to help and heal lives.
If there is anything we can assist with, please do not hesitate to contact Heather Hoog, CTBS, Donation Program Manager [email protected]