About Organ Donation

What Organs Can Be Donated?

Currently, the following organs can be donated and transplanted:

Heart - A muscular organ that pumps blood through the body.  A heart transplant can be used to help those suffering from heart failure, as well as babies born with heart defects.

Liver - A large organ that secretes bile and is active in the formation of certain blood proteins and in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.  Liver transplants may be used to treat various conditions which cause liver failure, such as cirrhosis or liver cancer.

Kidneys - A pair of organs that maintain proper water and electrolyte balance, regulate acid-base concentration, and filter the blood of metabolic waste, which is excreted as urine.  The kidneys are the most commonly transplanted organ.  A kidney transplant may be recommended for those who have been diagnosed with chronic end stage renal disease (severe kidney failure).

Lungs - A pair of two spongy organs that remove carbon dioxide from the blood and provide it with oxygen. Lung transplants are recommended for those with severe lung disease, such as cystic fibrosis, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and emphysema.

Pancreas - Long, irregularly shaped gland which lies behind the stomach and aids in the digestion of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Pancreatic transplants are indicated for those with insulin-dependent Type I diabetes.

Intestines - The portion of the digestive tract extending from the stomach to the anus, consisting of upper and lower segments. Patients qualify for intestine transplants if they have been diagnosed with life-threatening intestinal diseases such as total parenteral nutrition or short-gut syndrome.


The following tissues can be donated as well:

Cornea - The outer curved transparent tissues covering the iris and pupils on the outside of the eye.  Cornea transplants are a common procedure used to restore vision for those with eye diseases and corneal infections.

Skin - A tissue which protects the body from infection and injury. Skin transplants, referred to as skin grafts, are used to treat severe burns, extensive wounding and skin loss due to infection.

Heart Valves - Tissues that prevent the back flow of blood into the heart. Heart valve transplants are used to treat malfunctioning heart valves caused by infections, birth defects and aging.

Tendons - Tissues which attach muscles to bones. Tendon transplants are recommended for patients who have lost muscle function and due to nerve injury or damage to tendons.

Tissue and Eye (Cornea) Donation & Transplantation

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Reproduced with permission of the Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation (MTF).