Eye Donor FAQ
1. Why would someone need a cornea transplant?
There are a variety of reasons why someone might be suffering from vision loss and require a corneal transplant. These can include eye diseases such as Fuch's dystrophy, in which the endothelial cells of the cornea start dying off, or conditions like keratoconus which causes the cornea to distort. Other reasons can include corneal injuries or infections.
2. What does a corneal transplant surgery entail?
The type of transplant depends on the eye disease or injury and the preference of the eye surgeon. In some instances, such as repairing a corneal injury, the entire cornea may need to be transplanted. Another cornea transplant option is Descemet's stripping automated endothelial keratoplasty, or DSAEK, surgery in which the corneal surgeon replaces only the inner most layer of the cornea. In many cases, DSAEK surgery offers less pain and a shorter recovery time in comparison to traditional cornea surgeries.
If eye tissue cannot be used for transplant, it can be offered to ocular researchers across the U.S. who are working on discovering the causes of and cures for vision loss.
3. What is the success rate for cornea transplants?
Unlike many organ transplant surgeries, a cornea transplant has about a 90 percent success rate. Matching blood types between donor and recipient is not necessary in most cornea transplant cases. This is due to the fact that the human cornea is avascular, meaning that it is not supplied by blood vessels. Therefore, the body is much less likely to reject a cornea than it would a vascular organ like a heart or liver.
4. How do I become an eye donor?
The simplest way to register to become an eye, organ and tissue donor is to put your name on your state's first-person consent donor registry. A list of donor registries can be found at www.donatelife.net. Although your decision to donate is legally binding, we encourage you to notify your family or next-of-kin of your wishes to donate so there is no confusion upon your passing. For more information on first-person consent donor registries, please visit our page on Becoming a Tissue Donor.
5. What is your criteria for eye donors?
Almost anyone can be an eye donor, regardless of a history of poor vision or illnesses such as cancer or diabetes. Under the following conditions donation cannot occur: HIV or AIDS, active hepatitis, active syphilis, rabies, viral encephalitis, or active meningitis.
There is no age limit on eye donation, although Heartland Lions Eye Banks will offer corneal tissue for transplant from donors between the ages of 2 and 73. Donor tissue that does not fall within that specified age range is used for vital ocular research.
6. If I register as a tissue donor, is it true my doctors won't work as hard to save my life?
Your doctors are dedicated to saving your life. According to a statement from David Fleming, president and CEO of Donate Life America, "For health professionals, the number one priority is always to save the lives of their patients, and only after death is organ and tissue donation considered. While you can recover from comas, brain death is permanent, irreparable."
7. Is eye donation an accepted practice by my religion?
Eye, organ and tissue donation is accepted by most mainstream religious groups as a charitable act that can save or enhance another's life. For more detailed information on religious groups and their viewpoints on organ donation, please visit our page on the National Donor Sabbath.
8. Can donor families and tissue recipients correspond with each other?
We understand that for some donor families and cornea recipients, corresponding about their experiences is a key part to the healing process. The Eye Bank accepts correspondence from both recipient and donor families, then forwards these letters to the appropriate parties. This keeps the exchange anonymous because the identities of donor families and recipients are kept strictly confidential. For more information on this process, please visit our page on Donor Family and Cornea Recipient Correspondence.
9. How are the Lions Clubs affiliated with the Eye Bank?
The Eye Bank's parent organization, the Missouri Lions Eye Research Foundation, is the state sight project of the Missouri Lions clubs, and its relationship with the Lions dates back to our beginnings in 1960. As a result, the majority of the Foundation's Board of Directors is comprised of Missouri Lions. Lions clubs in Missouri, Kansas and Illinois provide financial support to the Eye Bank, and currently, we are the only Lions Eye Banks in the states of Kansas and Missouri.
10. How can I make a financial donation to the Eye Bank?
Heartland Lions Eye Banks and the Missouri Lions Eye Research Foundation are able to preserve and restore sight thanks to donations from generous contributors. To make a financial gift to the Eye Bank and invest in the vision of others for years to come, please visit our Give page.
11. How can I reach a media representative from the Eye Bank?
We encourage you to visit our News Room for up-to-date media-specific information or contact our PR department at 800-283-1982 or firstname.lastname@example.org.