Unlike organs, tissue doesn't need to be transplanted immediately. Storage facilities like Tissue Banks International in San Rafael, Calif., process and store donated tissue for later use in medical products or as transplants. Noah Berger/AP
Two winters ago, Lynnette Bellin tore her knee while skiing with her 5-year-old daughter.
"I felt the trademark pop ... and instantly knew I had injured my knee," she says.
But within a year, she was back to her athletic life.
"Recently in one week, I skied, ran, kayaked, stand-up paddle boarded, swam and hiked. At the end of that week, I looked back in awe from where I have come from," she says.
Bellin healed quickly after receiving a tendon from a cadaver, which helped to repair her torn ACL.
Her story was one of more than 100 responses that came in after NPR posted a query on its Facebook page asking if anyone had ever received a human tissue transplant. Almost every response, received in less than a day, was positive — and often glowingly so.
"I've thought of my donor often over the past year, wondering who gave me the gift of returning to my active lifestyle. I'm so thankful for this person choosing to donate their tissue," Bellin says.