Over 40,000 cornea transplants are performed in the United States each year, making it the most common and successful transplant procedure performed today. The Lion’s Eye Bank of Nebraska is the local organization that collects, evaluates and distributes corneal tissue.
According to the Lion’s Eye Bank of Nebraska, as of July 2005 there are currently 80 Nebraskans waiting for a cornea transplant. The Lion’s Eye Bank of Nebraska coordinated 208 tissue transfers for surgery in 2004, so the waiting list in Nebraska is manageable. However, there are currently 45,000 Americans waiting for cornea transplants, and only 50,000 transplants are performed annually, so many patients wait over a year for needed tissue.
In addition to corneal tissue, other tissue around the eye can be also used in reconstructive surgery, and researchers are continually working to expand the use of donated eye tissue.
There is a severe need for increased donor and tissue donation in the U.S., but misconceptions prevent many people from becoming donors. In order to be a donor, you must sign a donor card or the back of your driver’s license, and you must inform your family of your wishes since the next of kin must give consent for donation in Nebraska. Most religions do endorse organ and tissue donation, and the donation will not delay funeral arrangements or prevent an open casket funeral. Donors range in age from newborns to 70, but all willing donors are evaluated for medical suitability. Currently only a third of all potential candidates in the U.S. actually become donors.
If you have any questions about organ and tissue donation, please call Lion’s Eye Bank of Nebraska at 800-225-7244.