Arkansas Regional Organ Recovery Agency (ARORA) will do all we can to respect your family’s wishes and help you with this process. Please use this handout to answer some questions you might have, and you may also contact us for more information.
What is organ and tissue donation?
- Organs are the main parts of your body that help you live. Examples are your heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, and pancreas.
- Tissues are what make up your organs and hold them together. Examples are your skin, heart valves, bone, and veins.
Sometimes healthy organs and/or tissues can be donated from one person after they die, and put into another person’s body to help them live.
Sometimes organs or tissues cannot be used in another person, but are donated to help doctors learn more about different illnesses and treatments.
What can my baby give?
A baby may be able to donate his or her heart, heart valves, kidneys, or liver cells. Each baby and illness is different, and this may limit how much your baby can give. If you and your family are interested in donation, the ARORA coordinator will help decide what is possible for your baby to give.
How will the tissues/organs be used?
Organ transplants from baby donors often help other babies who were born with one or more organ problems.
- A new heart or kidney can be given to other children to replace their organs which are not working right.
- New heart valves can be given to other children to replace the heart valves that aren’t working right. One heart valve donor can help up to 3 or 4 other children.
- Some of the liver cells may be used for a child who has urea cycle disease. This can give a child time to grow so that he or she can have a liver transplant. It may even cause the child not to need a transplant.
- If your baby cannot donate for transplant, he or she may be able to help others through donation for research. This is a special way to help other people. Doctors and scientists can learn how to help others with illnesses like your baby’s. They may also learn more about how different organs and tissues react to treatments. Donation for research ALONE is not an option but if one organ is used for transplant, then research for other organs is an option. If nothing is used for transplant, then we would not schedule a recovery for research alone.
Will donating change our funeral plans?
No, it will not change your plans. Your family’s wishes will be honored.
How much will this cost my family?
Nothing. ARORA takes care of all costs.
Will we be able to hold our baby after the recovery surgery?
Yes, you will be able to hold your baby after the surgery. The surgery takes 4 hours or less. We will clean your baby, and wrap him or her in warm blankets before we bring him or her back to you. We can also dress your baby if you have special clothes for him or her to wear. You can hold your baby for as long as you like, and you can still take pictures of your baby if you like.
Will donating organs/tissues affect an autopsy?
An autopsy is an exam to find out why a person died. It may also give us information that we did not or could not know before your baby was born. We work with other doctors to make sure that donation does not affect an autopsy.
Who is involved?
- ARORA handles organ/tissue donation for the state of Arkansas. They will keep you updated about your baby’s donation and chances to meet with other donor families.
- A Family Services Coordinator will give you all the facts you need.
- A Procurement Coordinator and the ARORA Medical Director will figure out what your baby can give to save the lives of other children.
- Your doctors and staff at the hospital will be kept up to date the whole time.
- Doctors and recovery staff will do the surgery.
What kind of support will we have?
You will have a Family Services Coordinator trained to help with grief and loss. He or she will answer your questions, help you make memories, and make sure you have all of the information that you need.
We will also give you support once you get home with:
- Support groups
- Letter-writing workshops
- Chances to meet other donor families
Can I know who my baby helps?
We want to respect each person’s privacy, so we can’t share exactly who your baby helps.
- We can tell you if they are a boy or girl, their age, and the state where the transplant took place.
- We can tell you other information if the family wants to share more.
If you want to write a letter to the family, let us know. We will help you.
How do I get more information?
Call us at 1-800-727-6726 any time. Our Family Resource Center is open 24/7.