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NHM Health Focus:
National Donor Day

February 2009

      blood donor logo

Donation and Transplantation Resources:

Blood, Tissue and Organ Donation Organizations

February 14, National Donor Day, honors those who have donated organs, tissues, marrow and blood to save the lives of others. It also honors the families of donors who have made the decision to allow organs of loved ones to give new life to recipients.

Donated tissues and organs are often transported thousands of miles for transplantation. The allowed time between the harvesting of an organ and the recipient's surgical procedure varies. While a heart or lung may last no more than 5 hours, a properly treated kidney can last up to 72 hours. Skin, bone and heart valves may be preserved for five years or more.(Congressional Kidney Caucus).

Donated blood may be divided into components to better serve the transfusion needs of multiple patients and for appropriate storage. Red blood cells must be used within 42 days, platelets within 5 days, and plasma within a year.

The history of organ and blood donation offers many interesting stories. For example, preservation of blood plasma for later transfusion is a tribute to the legacy of Dr. Charles Drew. Dr. Drew is remembered for his pioneering blood research and other important contributions to society.

Interactive Web pages with online activities related to donation health and science include:

  • Interactive Student Activities – a multifaceted set of materials—print, video, CD-ROM, and web-based—designed to help public and private educators integrate the topic of organ and tissue donation into existing curriculum and training programs. (HHS)
  • Blood Types Tutorial – includes explanation, tutorial, and interactive problem sets (with answers) related to the inheritance of blood types. (Biology Project)
  • Games and More – seven interactive games that teach facts about blood donations. (American Red Cross)

Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum resources related to organ, tissue and blood donation include:


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