What is human tissue?

Human tissue is a collection of cells, usually non-vascularized, that have the same structures and functions. There are several human tissues, such as ligaments, tendons, arteries and corneas.

The following tissues can be donated after someone dies:

  • Eye tissues (cornea and others)
  • Musculoskeletal tissues (ligaments, tendons, bone chips and femoral heads, the end of the femur)
  • Cutaneous tissues (skin)
  • Arterial tissues (abdominal aortas and arteries)
  • Heart tissues (heart valve)

Human tissues must be harvested within 24 hours after death. This significantly increases opportunities for tissue donations.

Most tissues are processed and stored through a cryopreservation or cryostorage process, depending on the type, until the recipient needs it. Tissues can be stored for up to five years. Only the cornea, an eye tissue, must be grafted in a fresh state, within a maximum of 14 days.

Unlike human tissue donation, organ donation requires greater sustained management prior to death. Transplant Québec is the organization responsible for harvesting and handling organ donations.

Learn more about the benefits for recipients of human tissues.

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