A donated organ is one of the most precious gifts you could ever give someone. For thousands of people, life or death is dependent on the kindness of a stranger.

The more than 119,000 people on the national transplant waiting list need transplants for many different reasons. But, how is an organ donor able to help them?

Read: 5 Organ Donation Myths: My License Says I’m A Donor, But Why Weren’t My Organs Donated?

Here’s an up-to-date list of the organs and tissues that can be donated, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:

Hands And Face

As of 2014, deceased donors can now offer their hands and faces. Since 2005, more than 20 patients have received full or partial face transplants worldwide and more than 85 have received a hand/arm transplant, Johns Hopkins Medicine reports. For face transplants, tissue and blood tests are done to match donors and recipients. Additionally, there’s careful emphasis on matching skin color, skin tone, gender, ethnicity/race, and face size.


Deceased organ donors can donate: both kidneys, liver, both lungs, heart, and pancreas. Living donors can donate: one kidney, a lung, or a portion of the liver, pancreas, or intestine.


Two parts of a deceased donor’s eyes can be donated to help someone who has eye damage from a disease, injury, or birth defect. One is the cornea, which is the clear outer layer on the front of your eye that helps focus your vision. You can also donate your sclera, which is the white outer layer of your eyeball.


A single organ donor can save up to eight lives, but when you also donate tissue that number increases to 50. Heart valves, skin, bone, veins, cartilage, tendons, and ligaments can all be donated.

Blood Stem Cells, Cord Blood, and Bone Marrow

Healthy, living adults between the ages of 18 to 60 can donate bone marrow, cord blood stem cells, and peripheral blood stem cells. Unlike cornea donation, where you don’t need to “match" the recipient, stem cell donors must have a close match in tissue type or leukocyte antigen (HLA).

Blood and Platelets

Donating blood and platelets is one of the easiest ways for a living donor to save lives. Healthy individuals are eligible to donate blood every 56 days and platelets every four weeks.

See also: Organ Donors: What Happens To Your Body After Death In Organ Donation

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