Bone Donations

Save a life when you have hip replacement surgery

Did you know that if you are having hip replacement surgery that you can donate your hip bone to help others?

People with a variety of conditions need donated bone for their treatment. It’s used to treat:

  • children with scoliosis having spinal surgery
  • adults having repeat hip replacement surgery or needing bone grafts for spinal and other orthopaedic surgery
  • children with cancer who have bone fractures that won’t heal.

The donated bone comes from patients having hip replacement surgery, who donate the ball-shaped part of their hip bone (femoral head bone) that is otherwise discarded during the operation.

As a donor, there’s no impact on your surgery, because the bone will be removed anyway. For the recipient, however, the donation makes a big difference. It can help someone get back their mobility and health.

How do I donate?

Auckland, Waikato and Wellington region patients

  • Speak with your surgeon to obtain the necessary paperwork.
  • Additional information can be found in this leaflet [PDF, 41 KB].


Manawatu and South Island patients
        
  • Contact us on 0800 2DONATE (0800 236 628).
  • Or email us on bonedonors@nzblood.co.nz
  • Bone Donor Health Assessment hours are Monday – Friday, 10:00am – 6:30pm.
  • Please allow up to 30 minutes to complete the health assessment over the phone.
  • To view the questions that will be asked – click here. [PDF, 264 KB]
  • Additional information can be found in this leaflet. [PDF, 45 KB]
  • If you’re eligible to donate we will send you and your surgeon a letter to confirm this.

How does it work?

During your operation your femoral head bone will be collected and transported to a New Blood Service Tissue Bank (there is no change to the way your operation is carried out) where it will go in the deep freezer at -80°C.  During your operation a blood sample will be collected and sent along with your bone donation to the New Zealand Blood Service to be tested for infectious diseases such as hepatitis B; hepatitis C and HIV (just as it would if you donated blood).  After six months we may need another blood sample from you, to run follow-up tests, as some infections cannot always be detected in their early stages. We will contact you if that is the case.

If your bone is given the all-clear it can then be used in surgery. Your bone could be made into a paste, or cut into wedges or matchsticks to be used as scaffolding in a bone graft for someone who needs it.

Can I donate?

Donating bone is an incredibly easy and effective way to help someone else in need. However, not everyone having hip replacement surgery is able to donate.

Because bone is a type of human tissue we have to ensure that there is no chance of an infectious disease being transmitted through donation.  As with blood donation, you won’t be eligible to donate if you have certain risk factors for infectious diseases such HIV and hepatitis C. However, the requirements for donating bone are generally less stringent than blood donation as we don’t have to worry about your safety while donating (your anaesthetist will do that).

To donate, you will need to:

  • be over 18
  • be free of cancer for the past five years (it may be less than this if you’ve had skin cancer)
  • have not lived in Britain, France or Ireland for six months or longer between 1980 and 1996.

This is not an exclusive list, as the health assessment will cover additional criteria.

Back to top

Subscribe