Give The Gift of Sight
In August there is a broader effort to raise awareness around Organ Donation, and the life-changing value for transplant recipients. There is much less attention directed at tissue donation, especially cornea donations, and the highly successful transplant results.
The cornea is like the glass in a window, a clear surface through which the image enters the eye to be focused on the retina. As with a dirty or damaged window, an affected cornea quickly impacts focus and clarity of vision. Despite hundreds of cornea transplants taking place each year, in which Pietermaritzburg Eye Hospital plays a role, there are just never enough for everyone who needs to receive a cornea.
We want to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to those who give such a gift, and their loved ones who help make it happen at one of the most difficult moments in their lives. This donation of a cornea gives sight to people who have:
- A medical condition such as keratoconus
- A scarred cornea from trauma to the eye through things such as sport or work
- Perforation, ulcers or scarring from a repeated eye infection
- Degenerative conditions of the cornea
A cornea is donated by a person who has passed away. It is a time charged with emotion but we’d recommend you just indicate to your care team (whether in a Hospital, care home, at home, or the undertakers) your interest in corneas donation. A simple call to the experts at the Organ Donor Foundation’s Cornea team will help you to make an informed decision and make arrangements.
Some questions we know are that are commonly asked are:
- Does the blood type impact who the cornea can be donated to? Unlike with organ donations, the blood type does not impact who can be a recipient. So a donated cornea can successfully be transplanted into any person on the recipient list.
- Is the appearance of the deceased person deformed in some way as a result of the donation? No, cornea harvesting is done in such a way that it will not impact the person’s appearance. An open casket is still possible within cultural and religious timelines.