Organ and Tissue Donation and Embalming Prep

Date Published: 
May, 2006
Original Author: 
Dan Douthit, US Tissue and Cell, Cincinnati, Ohio
Melissa Williams, CFSP, Melissa Williams Funeral Services, Forest Park, Illinois
Original Publication: 
ICFM Magazine, May 2006

Don Douthit
From our point of view, the person is a donor; from your point of view, that's the decedent.

A lot of the same things are going on in both of our worlds. The celebration of life: That's what people are doing when they donate organs and tissue. They are celebrating life and giving life to the next group of individuals.

Both our missions are time driven and time sensitive.


We in tissue banking and the organ procural world, we get it. And more and more tissue banks are hiring funeral professionals for this very reason, so they can help educate and make sure everybody understands we're all there.

It's real important to keep your folks up to date on all the technologies. Send them to schools, embalming seminars. Make sure you have the products you need to do the job. There is technology that must be kept up with.

Yes, it's invasive. Yes, it takes a lot of tissue out of the body that you're used to having there that causes additional work for you. But when you understand the grand scheme, remember two things:

1. It's about the mission, your mission and our mission.

2. It's about the donor, the deceased.

There has to be a balance we can get to.

Melissa Williams
What we hear a lot from funeral directors is, "Organ donation, that's OK, but that tissue thing, that doesn't save anybody's life." That's in the eye of the beholder. What if it were your child in need?

Generally speaking, preparation is no different than an autopsy or a trauma case, and the outcome is always under our control. Think outside the box. People call me all the time and say, "I have to have an artery; you didn't leave me any artery."

Well, if you had someone who had arterial sclerosis of the femoral artery and they got no fluid down to the leg, what would you do? You wouldn't just walk away and say, "He's going to be buried in a couple of days; I'm not going to worry about it."

No, you'd either have to hypodermically inject that leg, or you would have to go in and try to find another artery if one that were available.


This article compiled from an address presented by the authors at the 2006 ICFA Annual Convention