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    Eye banks create the cycle of giving

    Donated ocular tissue journeys from recovery to transplant


    Distributing tissue

    For each tissue requested by a surgeon, an eye bank distribution staff offers tissue specifically to meet the needs of an individual patient.

    The surgeon specification includes the type of tissue best suited for each patient. The majority of corneal transplants are full thickness (for penetrating keratoplasty [PK], or eye bank-prepared partial thickness (for Descemet’s stripping with endothelial keratoplasty [DSEK] and Descemet’s membrane endothelial keratoplasty [DMEK]).

    In order to accomplish all that is needed to meet each surgeon’s preferences, eye banks work 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Tissue not only needs to be recovered within 24 hours, it must also be evaluated, prepared, and in a surgeon’s hands within just a few days. Regulations state that tissue expires in 14 days, but surgeons in the United States typically require a much quicker turnaround (Figure 4).

    Related: Treating the aging eye

    Regs and quality

    The FDA regulates all eye banks and completes unscheduled inspections to ensure recipient safety and to prevent the transmission of communicable disease. It is also important for all medical professionals to ensure that their local eye bank is accredited by the EBAA. The EBAA inspects each eye bank at least once every three years, though inspections may become more frequent if a location receives infractions.

    Each eye bank is required to have a quality assurance program to ensure it is inspection ready at all times and is adhering to the policies and procedures established by the eye bank’s medical director, FDA, and EBAA.

    Related: The technician’s role with anesthesia: Part II


    The Cycle of Giving completes with a corneal transplant recipient of human ocular donor tissue. Current EBAA statistics show that eye banks provided nearly 80,000 corneas for transplant in 2015, a far cry from the few used back in 1944.2,4  In addition, a 2013 study revealed that the lifetime benefit of corneal transplants is an extraordinary $5.5 billion.5

    Many donor families long to know the outcome of their loved one’s tissue. Eye banks encourage discussion with transplant patients about the gift they receive. The eye bank can then facilitate anonymous correspondence between donor families and recipients, share donor and recipient stories, and advocate for donation.

    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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