Human tissue and evolving medicine saves lives  |  October 27, 2009

MeetingwDoctor_0035The following byline from AlloSource has appeared in hundreds of media outlets around the country

Amidst the constantly changing world of medicine, innovative research from some of the world’s leading surgeons is finding new ways to use donated human tissue to treat a host of medical conditions.

Registered donors and their families donate this allograft tissue in the same way organs are donated. It is used in many life-saving and enhancing medical procedures already, with numerous new opportunities on the horizon.

“Many people don’t realize it, but donated human tissue is used in many surgical applications, saving peoples’ lives and limbs daily,” says Dr. Ross Wilkins from the Denver Clinic for Extremities at Risk, a highly specialized group in the management of conditions and diseases that place people at risk of losing a limb. “Allograft tissue is used to replace damaged structures in the body, from the ligaments and tendons of major league sports players, bones and joints of military men and women, to the musculoskeletal structures, teeth, skin and spinal components of average citizens.”

AlloSource, one of the nation’s largest accredited tissue processing facilities, recently provided tissue to a man severely injured on a construction site. After a crane on the site hit a power line, Manuel Salazar was struck by 150,000 volts and was severely burned and lost both arms and both legs. First, allograft skin was used to cover his severe burns, then allograft bone and tissue were used to help build him a new arm and shoulder, so he could be successfully be fitted for a prosthetic arm and once again complete everyday tasks such as brushing his teeth and scratching his head.

“Donated human tissue has completely changed my life,” says Salazar. “Although I was forever changed by my accident, the new possibilities that allograft tissue have provided for me have restored my hope.”

On New Years Day Salazar will be sponsored by AlloSource to appear in the 2010 Rose Parade aboard the Donate Life float entitled New Life Rises. Salazar will join 23 other riders representing millions of people touched by organ and tissue donation, including donor families, living donors, transplant recipients and transplant candidates.

Dr. Wilkins and plastic surgeon Dr. William Brown operated on Salazar and have innovative surgeries for many patients using human allograft tissue for promoted healing, growth or reconstruction.

“The possibilities for the use of human tissue in modern medicine are truly thrilling,” Wilkins says. “Soon, we will know more about the growth biology of the human body, about regenerating bone and tissue and using donor stem cells to re-grow physical structures. We’ll have more of the information we need to achieve long-term success with groundbreaking procedures such as full limb transplantation.”

Currently, physicians of different specialties are working together to solve some of the most difficult issues in limb reconstruction. Surgical teams from the Denver Clinic for Extremities at Risk and Colorado State University Animal Cancer Center have devised a method for live, full joint transplants. Additional work is needed to learn how to safely block rejection.

“As more people learn about these remarkable discoveries and choose to be tissue donors, we will be able to find new ways to maximize those gifts and surgical teams will be able to provide patients with restored function and movement we only dream about today,” says Thomas Cycyota, chief executive officer of AlloSource.

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