Home » Community » Tissue Donation » Nerve Tissue

Which nerves are used for donation?

The nervous system is the main control center for your body. It makes your muscles move, helps you feel sensation, and monitors your organs. The brain and spinal cord make up the central nervous system (CNS), which receives and reads signals from your body's other nerves, called the peripheral nervous system (PNS). Peripheral nerves are like wires – they transfer signals across a vast network and deliver data from tissues and organs to and from the brain to every part of the body. Only peripheral nerves from extremities are currently donated, recovered, and used for transplantation.

An overview of the Central Nervous System (CNS) including the brain and spinal cord and the Peripheral Nervous System (PNS) including the ganglion and nerves. Only peripheral nerves from extremities are currently donated, recovered, and used for transplantation.

Image credit: OpenStax [CC BY 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

What is donated nerve tissue used for?

A peripheral nerve injury (from trauma injury, disease, removal of neuroma to reduce pain or surgical repair of nerves that are cut in surgical procedures) can occur anywhere in the body leading to pain and loss of motor function and/or sensation. Damaged peripheral nerves can be surgically repaired, helping to restore nerve function and improve patient quality of life. Additionally, peripheral nerves can be repaired during reconstruction surgical procedures such as breast reconstruction. Processed donated nerve tissue can be used to repair the damaged nerve or reconstruct peripheral nerve pathways which can lead to restoration of sensory and motor function at the area of the injury.

How does donated nerve tissue benefit a recipient?

Every day people suffer traumatic injuries or undergo surgical procedures that impact the function of their peripheral nerves. Physical damage to a peripheral nerve, or the inability to properly reconnect peripheral nerves, can result in the loss of muscle or organ function, the loss of sensory feeling or the initiation of pain. Nerve tissue recipients can experience life-changing results that significantly improve motor function, sensation and quality of life.