Part one of a four-part series.
The story of how Chris Truitt went from being a tissue industry insider to an industry skeptic starts with a family tragedy.
In 1999, his 2-year-old daughter Alyssa died of a sudden health complication. Truitt and his wife Holly donated their daughter's organs and tissue, which saved the life of another young girl, Kaylin Arrowood.
The Truitts and her family became close friends and then advocates together, telling others to donate. That led to a career change for Truitt, who went to work for the organ bank in Madison, Wisc., where he lived. They gave him a job on the tissue side of the business.
Most people are familiar with organ donation, especially as it's portrayed in television or movies: There's the image of an organ getting thrown into a cooler, packed with dry ice. Then there's the race against time as it's flown off to some other hospital where a patient waits for life-saving surgery.
"Tissue donation was totally different, and I knew it going into it," says Truitt, who worked in the tissue donation industry for several years before quitting."We're recovering skin, bones, tendons, heart valves, veins, those sorts of things."