EyeBanks are registered non-profit organisations authorized by the Dept. of Health to obtain and distribute eye tissue to Surgeons for transplant purposes in order to restore or improve the sight of persons who are blind or partially blind.
An eye bank is a non-profit agency staffed with trained medical professionals who recover, process, and distribute eye tissue for surgical, research and teaching purposes, using strict medical guidelines. Standards for eye banking in the United States are extremely high and rigidly enforced by the Eye Bank Association of America through an extensive accreditation process.Vision is one of man’s most precious possessions.
It allows us to witness the beauty of nature, produce works of art, cherish the face of a loved one and simply enjoy the sights of the world around us. Unfortunately some of us, for a variety of reasons, have lost our sight.
Sometimes this loss is attributable to corneal disease or injury.
In previous years, the difficulty had always been that surgeons could not obtain corneas for transplant purposes when needed. Because of the shortage of donor corneas, patients needing corneal transplant operations waited many months or years before corneas became available. Because of these delays, sight was often permanently and irrevocably lost. The Eye Bank Foundation was established to try and alleviate this problem.
Over 90% of all corneal transplant operations successfully restore the corneal recipient’s vision.
There is no substitute for corneal tissue. The transplantation process depends upon the priceless gift of corneal donation. In order to obtain corneal tissue, the Eye Bank staff liaise with mortuary and hospital staff on a daily basis.
Eye Bank staff are then able to approach the next of kin of the deceased person, to ask them to consider cornea donation. Families will never be coerced or pressurized into giving consent and the decision of the next of kin will always be respected.
The donor may also have informed their family prior to death of their wishes to donate their corneas. In this instance, it is usually a family member who contacts the Eye Bank and informs them of the death of the donor and their wishes to donate their corneas.
Informing your family about your intentions
is the best way of ensuring that your wishes of being a donor are carried out.
The “Gift of Sight” is purely that, a gift, and no remuneration is paid to the donor family. The recipient is charged a nominal Service Fee, this in order to recover procurement costs. Allowance for this is made in our National Health Act, 2003.
On request, the Eye Bank supplies potential donors with an Eye Donor card. This card is signed and witnessed and carried on your person at all time. It indicates your intent and requests that the Eye Bank be contacted at the time of your death. It is important to note that ideally corneas need to be removed between 6 – 12 hours after death.