Tissue and cornea recovery can take place up to 24 hours after declaration of death.
The FDA regulates tissue donation. Suitability criteria for tissue and cornea are more strict than criteria for organs, however, patients do not need to have received ventilator support prior to death. People who die from any cause can be considered for tissue donation.
The tissue recovery involves the procurement of bone, skin, veins, heart valves, corneas, tendons, and other gifts for transplantation. Tissue recovery is a surgical procedure conducted in an operating room under sterile conditions.
In cases of organ donation with tissue donation afterward, the tissue recovery either takes place shortly after the organ recovery at the hospital where the patient was treated or the patient will be transported to CORE’s main facility in Pittsburgh. CORE will first seek authorization to move the patient from the family.
Depending on the tissues recovered, the surgical procedure can take 4-8 hours. CORE will work with the donor’s family to make sure that time expectations for funeral arrangements are met.
After tissue is recovered, it is packaged in sterile containers and sent in cold storage to a tissue processing facility. The tissue processing facility will review the donor’s medical records and administer additional lab tests to ensure that the tissue is safe for transplantation. Much of the tissue donated to CORE will be used in procedures for patients in Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia.