By Marc Beuttler
When people sign up to become organ donors (usually while obtaining a new driver’s license) they also agree to donate bones, cartilage and other tissues that can be transplanted much like organs. While most organ donors don’t realize that they have signed up to be bone and cartilage donors or that it’s even possible to donate these tissues, for many who suffer serious burns, cancer, and other conditions, these transplants greatly improve life. A Colorado based nonprofit, AlloSource, is one of the only companies to recycle bones, tendons, cartilage and skin from human cadavers and to sterilize and shape these tissues to be sent to hospitals around the nation. This process is confronted with two main challenges: ensuring that the donated tissues are free of diseases like hepatitis B or C, and reshaping the material to fit the patient. AlloSource uses x-rays and cat scans to try to match each patient’s needs. In some cases, stem cells are used to heal bones more quickly. The company also isolates these stem cells in order to create a product that can heal injuries more rapidly, as well as donated collagen that can be used for post-mastectomy breast reconstruction. AlloSource CEO, Tom Cycota says these tissues are gifts capable of transforming the death of one into the life-enhancing miracle of another: “The tissue that we’re processing today — that person was alive yesterday. While we’re gifted with their tissue and trying to do some really cool stuff with it, that family is dealing with the grief of losing a loved one and we never forget about that.” AlloSource is one of the leading innovators in maximizing tissue donation, with the goal of offering optimal solutions for healthcare providers and their patients. They have partnered with our orthopedic surgeon customers to create the world’s largest fresh articular cartilage allograft program, which promotes joint restoration to help people regain mobility after trauma or diseases.
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