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Glossary


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Allocation
The system of ensuring that organs and tissues are distributed fairly to patients who are in need.
Allograft
Organ and tissue transplants between genetically different humans of the same species. See Bone Allograft
Anti-Rejection Drugs (immunosuppressive drugs)
Drugs that are taken to help the body accept the transplanted organ.
Apnea Test
The apnea test is completed as part of the evaluation for brain death. It demonstrates the absence of respiration (breathing) and lack of function of the brain stem.
Authorized Person:
New York State law stipulates the following order of priority for individuals to make decisions about donation when someone has died: (1) A designated Health Care Agent; (2) An agent for the disposition of remains (burial agent); (3) Spouse or a patient's domestic partner if there is no spouse or the spouse is legally separated from the patient; (4) Adult Children; (5) Parents; (6) Adult Siblings; (7) Guardian; (8) Any other person authorized or under the obligation to dispose of the body

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Bone Allograft
Bone transplant between genetically different humans of the same species.
Brain Death
A patient is brain dead when all brain and brain stem functions cease and they cannot breath on their own. Once the patient is declared brain dead, the person is legally dead. A brain dead person can be maintained on a breathing machine that provides oxygen to their heart and other organs. Despite declaration of death, the organs can be kept healthy for organ donation by providing them blood supply and oxygen. All donors in New York and the U.S. are either brain dead or dead by cessation of a heart beat before they are eligible to donate organs. The New York Organ Donor Network adheres to New York State guidelines for declaration of death and verifies that donor hospital guidelines have been observed prior to proceeding with organ donation.
Brain Stem
A stem-like extension of the brain that controls heartbeat and respiration.

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Cadaveric

Term no longer used by organ, tissue and eye donor families.

See Deceased Donor

Cardiac Death
The cessation of all respiratory and heart functions.
Cartilage
A translucent elastic tissue that composes most of the skeleton; cartilage bone, formed by ossification of cartilage.
Cornea
The outer curved transparent tissue covering the iris and pupils on the outside of the eye. Only the cornea is removed for corneal transplants.
Costs
See Payment
Cross-matching
A blood test done before the transplant to see if the potential recipient will react to the donor organ. If the cross-match is "positive," then the donor and patient are incompatible. If the cross-match is "negative," then the transplant may proceed. Cross-matching is routinely performed for kidney and pancreas transplants.
Cyclosporine
A drug used to prevent rejection of the transplanted organ by suppressing the body's defense system. Considered an immunosuppressant.

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Deceased Donor
A deceased organ, tissue or eye donor who is usually unrelated to the recipient.
Designated Donor
Donor designation in the New York State Donate Life Registry indicates that an individual age 18 or over has made the legally binding decision to direct others to donate their organs, eyes and tissues upon their death.
Directed Donation
Donors or donor families can specify transplant recipients under a procedure that is specifically permitted under most state laws governing anatomical gifts. To receive a directed donation the recipient would have to be formally accepted for a transplant by a transplant center and would have to be medically compatible (blood type, size, etc.) with the donor. While most laws do not place any added restrictions, ethically it is best to specify an individual recipient by name. (Source: Association of Organ Procurement Organizations)
Donation After Cardiac Death (DCD)
Donation After Cardiac Death allows for the recovery of liver, kidneys, pancreas, lungs and tissues, and more rarely, hearts from patients who have suffered a devastating non-recoverable illness or injury and are ventilator dependent, but do not technically meet the criteria to be declared brain dead. The recovery of organs for DCD takes place after the patient has been declared dead based on the clinical findings of irreversible cessation of circulation or blood flow. This type of donation is offered to families only after the decision has been made to remove the patient from life support. The recovery of organs takes place after the patient has been declared dead based on the absence of all cardiovascular and respiratory function.
Donor Designation
See Designated Donor

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End-Stage Organ Disease
A disease that leads, ultimately, to functional failure of an organ. Some examples are emphysema (lungs), cardiomyopathy (heart), and polycystic kidney disease (kidneys).

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Fees
See Payment
Femoral Vein
The large vein in the groin that carries blood from the lower extremities (legs) to the heart.

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Graft
An organ or tissue transplanted from one individual to another of the same species.

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Harvest or Harvesting

Term no longer used by organ and tissue donor families.

See Recover

Health Care Proxy
In New York State, an agent may be designated to act on a patient's behalf, should he or she become incapacitated.
Heart valves
A tissue that prevents the back flow of blood into the heart. The heart valves can be donated and transplanted.

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Iliac Arteries
Branches of the aorta supplying blood to the pelvis.
Immunosuppressive Drugs
Chemical agents that cause the human body not to produce antibodies that normally fight off foreign material in the body. The production of these antibodies needs to be suppressed in order to permit the acceptance of a donor organ by the recipient's body.

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Life Support
When a person has been declared brain dead, it is incorrect to say that the person is removed from "life support." See Ventilator
Ligaments
Strong, elastic bands of tissue that connect two bones together. Ligaments provide strength and stability to joints. Ligaments can also be transplanted.
Living Donor
A person who donates a kidney, part of a lung or part of a liver, while they are still alive.
Living Donor Kidney Exchange Program
A program in which two or more people who are unable to donate a kidney to a relative or friend because of biological incompatibility, are exchanged to form new pairs, each containing a compatible donor and recipient.

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MELD
The Model for End-Stage Liver Disease is a numerical scale, ranging from 6 (less ill) to 40 (gravely ill), that is used for adult liver transplant candidates. It gives each individual a ‘score' (number) based on how urgently he or she needs a liver transplant within the next three months. The number is calculated by a formula using three routine lab test results. (1) Bilirubin, which measures how effectively the liver excretes the bile; (2) INR (prothrombin time), which measures the liver's ability to make blood clotting factors; and (3) Creatinine, which measures kidney function. Impaired kidney function is often associated with severe liver disease. NOTE: A patient's score may go up or down over time depending on the status of his or her liver disease. Many patients will have their MELD score assessed a number of times while they are on the waiting list. (Source: United Network for Organ Sharing – UNOS). Also see PELD.
Multiple Listing
Being on the national organ transplant waiting list at more than one transplant center in different states.

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New York State Donate Life Registry
The New York State Department of Health administers the confidential database of designated organ, tissue and eye donors. Those who sign the registry have made a decision that is legally binding and may not be overturned by another individual.
Next-of-Kin
This is someone who may be asked to consent to organ, eye and tissue donation on behalf of someone who is not a legally authorized or designated donor. There is an authorized person order of priority which, by law, must be followed in seeking consent in New York State for donation.
Non-designated
An individual who has not signed a legally binding document stating that he or she has decided to become an organ, eye and tissue donation, or any combination of the three. In such cases, a priority list to obtain consent for donation from various categories of individuals applies.

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Order of Priority
New York State law stipulates the following order of priority for an authorized person to make consent decisions about donation when someone has died, should there be no documented decision by the deceased to become a donor: A designated health care agent; an agent for the disposition of remains (burial agent); a patient's domestic partner if there is no spouse or the spouse is legally separated from the patient; adult children, parents, adult siblings, guardian, and any other person authorized or under the obligation to dispose of the body
Organ
A part of the body made up of tissues and cells that enable it to perform a particular function. Transplantable organs are the heart, liver, lungs, kidneys, pancreas and intestines.
Organ Donation After Cardiac Death
See Donation After Cardiac Death
Organ Preservation
Donated organs require special methods of preservation to keep them viable between procurement and transplantation. Without preservation, the organ will deteriorate. The length of time organs and tissues can be kept outside the body vary depending on the organ, the type of preservation fluid, and the preservation method (pump or cold storage). Common preservation times vary from two to four hours for lungs to 48 hours for kidneys.

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Payment
Donor families are never responsible for costs related to donation.
PELD
Candidates under the age of 18 who are waiting for livers are placed in categories according to the Pediatric End-stage Liver Disease (PELD) scoring system. PELD is similar to MELD but uses some different criteria to recognize the specific growth and development of children. PELD scores may also range higher or lower than the range of MELD scores. The measures used are as follows: (1) Bilirubin, which measures how effectively the liver excretes the bile; (2) INR (prothrombin time), which measures the liver's ability to make blood clotting factors; and (3) Albumin, which measures the liver's ability to maintain nutrition; (4) growth failure; and (5) whether the child is less than one year old when listed for a transplant. (Source: United Network for Organ Sharing – UNOS).
Perfusion
The passage of fluid through empty spaces to preserve the viability of recovered organs.
Peripheral Vascular Disease
Diseases of the extremities involving the arteries, veins and lymph nodes.
Procurement
See Recover

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Recipient
An individual who receives transplanted organs, tissues or corneas. Federal and State legislation requires hospitals to have in place written policies and protocols for referring potential organ and tissue donors and/or requesting donation from families of potential donors. Factors such as race, gender, and age income or celebrity status are not considered when determining who receives organs or tissues.
Recover
A term used to describe the process of recovering life-saving and life-enhancing organs and tissues for recipients on the waiting list. Donated organs are removed surgically; donation neither disfigures the body nor eliminates the possibility for an open casket funeral.
Registry
See New York State Donate Life Registry
Rejection
(1) The body's attempt to destroy the transplanted organ; usually occurs in the first year after transplant. (2) Rejection occurs when the body tries to attack a transplanted organ because it reacts to the organ or tissue as a foreign object and produces antibodies to destroy it. Anti-rejection (immunosuppressive) drugs help prevent rejection.
Routine Referral
Hospitals are required on or before each death to call the Organ Procurement Organization (OPO) in order to determine suitability for organ, eye and tissue donation. The OPO, in consultation with the patient's attending physician or his or her designee, will determine the suitability for donation. If the patient is a candidate for anatomical donation, only personnel from the OPO or a designated requestor from the hospital can request donation from the next of kin.

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Saphenous Vein
A blood vessel in the lower leg carrying blood toward the heart. The saphenous veins serve as the principal vessels running superficially (near the surface) up the leg.
Soft Tissues
Tissues that connect, support or surround other structures and organs of the body. These include muscle, fat, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, fibrous tissue, blood vessels, or other supporting tissues of the body.

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Tendons
The transfer of organs and/or tissues to a recipient.
Thoracic Aorta
The thoracic aorta is a section of the aorta, the largest artery in the body, within the chest. Specifically, the thoracic aorta is that part of the aorta that starts after the arch of the aorta and runs down to the diaphragm, the great muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen. The thoracic aorta gives off numerous branches that supply oxygenated blood to the chest cage and the organs within the chest.
Tissues
Tissues available for transplantation include corneas, skin, bone, heart valves, veins and tendons. Click here for details.

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United Network for Organ Sharing
The transplant community is joined under a nationwide umbrella: The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), a nonprofit charitable organization, administers and maintains the nation's organ transplant waiting list under contract with the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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Venous
Related to a vein or to the veins.
Ventilator
A machine that "breathes" for a person when he or she is not able to breath properly. In the case of brain death, when the person is clinically dead, the person is sometimes incorrectly referred to as being on life support. In this case, saying that the person is brain dead and that his or her body function is being maintained by a ventilator is more accurate.

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Waiting List
After evaluation by the transplant physician, a patient is added to the national organ transplant waiting list by the transplant center. Lists are specific to both geographic area and organ type (heart, lung, kidney, liver, pancreas, intestine, heart-lung, or kidney-pancreas). Each time a donor organ becomes available, the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) computer generates a list of potential recipients based on factors that include genetic similarity, blood type, organ size, medical urgency and time on the waiting list. Through this process, a "new" list is generated each time an organ becomes available that best "matches" a patient to a donated organ.

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