Transplantation of tissues touches the lives of many people in two ways; on one hand, it affects the families of donors; on the
other hand, it benefits the recipients. Transplanting bone into patients is probably the most common form of transplantation
today. Were it not for the understanding and generosity of the nearest relatives of donors from whom
the allografts were obtained, this would not be possible.
The Hospital Development department at
UMTB provides excellent service not only to its distribution clients but also to its donor hospitals. Since its inception,
UMTB’s specialists in hospital development have been educating hospital staff on the process of referring potential donors
and to ensure that hospitals comply with the state and federal
legislation. Along with these efforts, this department also provides immediate follow up to hospitals after a referral results
in a tissue donation.
UMTB receives donor referrals from all hospitals in South Florida and from medical examiners, coroners, the organ recovery
agency and the eye banks serving the region. Referral calls are made to a central donor referral line where callers are asked
several questions about the potential donor. The donor family advocate on call is paged and will then follow up with the referring facility
to determine if donation options can be offered to the next of kin.
UMTB works collaboratively with the other recovery agencies in the region to ensure that the next of kin's wishes for
donation are honored whenever possible. This cooperative effort facilitates easy donor referral and comprehensive donor
Consent for Donation, Working With Families
The goal of approaching a family about donation is to offer an informed choice and to support their decision, whether
they choose to consent or not. Families are given time to think about the options offered to them and to ask questions.
If they choose to donate, the next of kin is asked to sign a consent document. An informed consent must include the specific
organs and tissues the family wishes to donate, a statement regarding the intended use for the tissues (transplantation or
advancement of medical science and education or research), and information regarding infectious disease testing to be
performed. Consent may be obtained by a donor family advocate from any of the recovery agencies.
Donor Selection and Donation Coordination
Donor selection is based initially on information available at the time of the death. This includes a review of the available
medical records, discussion with medical staff, and a next-of-kin interview using a standardized screening form. The next-of-kin
interview may be performed at a later time if the family is unable to complete it at the time of the donation. Donor family advocates
determine preliminary suitability and schedule the recovery of tissues which are then placed in quarantine while donor evaluation
Trained donor family advocates are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, through a toll-free number (1-800-255-4483),
to provide support services to hospital staff and to facilitate the donation process.
The Tissue Bank is committed to caring for donor families during and after the donation. A bereavement program offers families
support after their loss. Donor family recognition ceremonies are held in cooperation with the other recovery agencies.
Donor families have commented that these events offer them an opportunity to gain strength from other families and from their
generous gift of donation.