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    Eye banks create the cycle of giving

    Donated ocular tissue journeys from recovery to transplant

    The Human Tissue “box” (Figure 1) that shows up at your hospital or surgery center and its contents go through quite a journey, which we in the eye banking world call the Cycle of Giving, to reach your destination.

    The history of corneal transplants began more than 100 years ago in 1905 when the first surgery was performed.1 The first eye bank was established in New York City in 1944.2 As more eye banks were founded throughout the country, they formed a strong network which lead to the creation of the Eye Bank Association of America (EBAA) in 1961, the Cornea Society in 1975, and the development of medical standards for all accredited eye banks in 1980.2

    In conjunction with the expanding presence and impact of eye banks, the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act (UAGA) was passed in 1968, establishing a regulatory framework for the donation of organs, tissues, and eyes in the U.S.2 This act ensured compliance with a donor’s wishes upon his death to donate to science, medicine, and education. This legislation has gone through two revisions over the years and has been adopted in some form in the majority of states.2

    Related: Minimally invasive surgical solutions for presbyopia

    In addition, most states have implemented a donation symbol on their driver’s licenses which confirms an individual’s designation to be a part of her state’s registry as an eye, organ, and tissue donor. Today, most donor registrations have evolved to first-person authorizations, a legally binding agreement that ensures the donor’s wishes are carried out at the time of death.

    The symbiotic advancements in the fields of eye banking and state donation policies have had a profound impact. As recently as 10 years ago, corneal transplant surgeons had to put their patients on a wait list until tissue became available.  Now, due to the increased number of registered donors and ocular tissue available, surgeries can be scheduled in advance.  Corneal transplants have become the most successful and most common form of human transplant performed.3

    Diane M. Hollingsworth
    Diane M. Hollingsworth has served as executive director of the Illinois Operations of Eversight since August 2010. Diane is an active ...

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