1957 Lions of Oklahoma at the State Convention voted unanimously to establish
the Oklahoma Lions Eye Bank. The next step was the passage of a bill by state
legislators to create a low to allow eye and organ donation after death. Lions
across the state lobbied legislators at the State Capitol for passage of the
bill to become law.
The Lions Eye Bank opened an office in November, 1957 at University Hospital
with one employee, medical director, and ophthalmology residents to recover
Oklahoma Donated corneas. The first cornea transplants were for a young man age
17 and a young woman age 14. The corneas were donated by a Korean War Veteran.
He was a patient at University Hospital.
In 1961 the Eye Bank Association of America was established and the Oklahoma
Lions Eye Bank became a charter member. The EBAA is a nonprofit organization
dedicated to the restoration of sight through promotion and advancement of eye
banking. The organization provides medical standards, policies and procedures,
education and certification for Eye Banks, technicians, medical directors, and
the executive director. The Lions Eye bank is inspected and certified every
three years depending on inspection results.
mission of the Oklahoma Lions Eye Bank is to recover and provide corneas for
cornea transplants for Oklahomans on the cornea surgery waiting lists. The Eye
Bank provides corneas not suitable for transplant for cornea rim research at
the Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. The Lions Eye Bank is the only Eye Bank in
Oklahoma working to provide corneas to Cornea Surgeons across our state.
Certified Eye Bank Technician must retrieve the cornea within a six-hour period
after the death of the donor. Donor screening including medical history,
serology results, cornea evaluation and other relevant information must be
completed before cornea tissue is released for surgery. When the cornea becomes
available, the eye bank notifies the surgeon that has the next patient on the
eye bank waiting list. The surgeon accepts the tissue and contacts the
recipient to schedule the corneal transplant. If the cornea cannot be placed
locally, the eye bank will contact other eye banks to export the cornea tissue.
Since the establishment of the Oklahoma Lions Eye Bank, over 24,000 corneas
have been donated resulting in approximately 20,000 successful corneal
transplant surgeries. Corneas that are not suitable for transplantation are use
to provide sclera for additional eye procedures and for ocular research.
About Corneal Transplants
performed in 1905, the corneal transplant is the oldest organ transplant
procedure currently performed. Over 45,000 people receive the gift of sight
each year due to a corneal transplant. Compare this to the combined total of
all other organ transplants in a given year of approximately 20,000. According
to the Eye Bank Association of America web site, over 700,000 people have had
their sight restored since 1961.
A corneal transplant, also known as a corneal graft, or as a penetrating
keratoplasty, involves the removal of the central portion (called a button) of
the diseased cornea and replacing it with a matched donor button of cornea.
Corneal grafts are also performed on patients with damaged or scarred corneas
that prevent acceptable vision. Scarring may result from disease or trauma.
Over 90% of the corneal grafts are successful with some studies reporting 97%
to 99% success rates at 5 and 10 years (Kirkness et al 1990; Troutman and
Lawless 1987). Recipients have ranged in age from 9 days to 103 years.
mother of a corneal transplant recipient shares her feelings about the work of
the Oklahoma Lions Eye Bank:
blue eyes. It has been 17 years since his corneal transplants in infancy, and I
have said more silent prayers of thanksgiving than I can count. Who is this
young man with precious eyes? An honor student. A voracious reader. A summer
volunteer at the library. A lover of maps and history. A budding young rock
musician and driver of a vintage VW beetle. A blue belt student of Taekwondo.
An Eagle Scout who built an outdoor science classroom. Benís blue eyes are
beyond precious. They are the most profound gift one family could ever give
another: Life after death.
- Benjaminís Mom
On September 6, 2011 a
campaign to raise funds to build a new Eye Bank building was launched. The
present building is 60 years old and floods during heavy rains. The roof is
flat and leaks. Also, with the continued growth of the Eye Bank, more offices
and a larger lab are greatly needed.
The Oklahoma City Downtown Lions Club challenged Oklahoma Lions, and Lions
Clubs to raise funds to build a new Eye Bank Building. The OKC Downtown Club
put up a $100,000 match for funds raised by Lions. By December 31st the Lions
Clubs and members raised $109,000. Additional funds are needed to build the
medical facility at a cost of $800,000.