Watch The Human Tissue Squad on BBC3 9 pm Monday 1st September

September 1, 2014   //   No Comments

Meet the young men and women who retrieve skin and bone from deceased donors for a living

The Human Tissue Squad is a fascinating, two-part documentary with unprecedented access to the tissue donation team and staff at NHS Blood and Transplant’s national human tissue bank in Liverpool. Offering a revealing insight into life at the UK’s only centre of its kind, this series shows the physical and emotional challenges facing the team in its crucial work providing donated human tissue to patients within the NHS.

Relying on the generosity of donors’ families, the team is able to provide heart valves, skin, tendons, bone and other tissues to repair or rebuild the bodies of thousands of people severely injured or affected by disease every year. The mini-series also meets some of the young people whose lives have been transformed by these transplants and the pioneering surgeons who make the best use of the very special materials entrusted to them.

In the first episode viewers see the team battle to keep up with the demand for tissue from hospitals nationwide, highlighting the growing number of recipients waiting for transplants. In a highly unusual case, 19-year-old Morgan needs her shinbone/tibia replaced to stop the tumour spreading, and the desperate hunt is on to find her the right donor. 24-year-old Tom suffers from a rare degenerative eye condition called keratoconus, is unable to drive and with his work options increasingly limited, a donor cornea is his only hope of a normal life. Four-year-old Laiela was born with a heart defect that threatens to cut her very young life short. A suitable match from a teenage donor offers her parents a glimmer of hope – will it be enough to save her life?

Only around 5,000 people die in the UK each year in circumstances where they can donate their organs. Families are more likely to agree to donation when they know what their loved one wanted. Almost anyone can be considered as a tissue donor, so people are more likely to become a tissue donor than an organ donor. Donated tissue such as skin, bones and eyes can save or dramatically improve the lives of many people suffering from illness or injury.

Find out more about the Organ Donation Register.