Every transplant recipient has safety concerns. The Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Bank and your surgeon share those concerns. Together, many steps are taken to ensure the safest transplant possible.
Tissue safety is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Eye Bank Association of America. Both agencies routinely inspect the eye bank for compliance with safety and medical standards. In addition, the eye bank is overseen by two medical directors who are cornea specialists.
First, our Recovery Technicians perform a thorough review of the donor's medical record. This step ensures safety by screening out potentially harmful diseases.
Second, our Recovery Coordinators interview the donor's next-of-kin about the donor's past medical and social history. The donor's loved ones often provide additional information that may not appear in the medical record, which adds another level of safety.
Third, we perform several tests on the donor's blood to screen for infectious diseases. These include tests for HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Syphilis, and HTLV I/II. All of these tests must be negative for a transplant to occur.
Lastly, the coordinators also evaluate donated corneas using two powerful microscopes. These microscopes allow the coordinator to evaluate the general condition of the donor cornea as well as count the number of endothelial cells on the cornea. These cells are vital to a successful transplant. Every cornea must meet strict medical and physical standards in order to be offered to a surgeon for transplant.
Many criteria will be evaluated when selecting a cornea that is right for you. These include your age, diagnosis, and time on the waiting list. The donor's age, corneal cell count, general condition, and size of the cornea will also be factors. Typically your age will match your donor's age within 10 years. Blood type or tissue type does not need to be matched for successful cornea transplants.
Ultimately, your surgeon will decide whether a particular donor cornea is right for you; but you can rest assured knowing that the most rigorous safety measures have been put in place to protect your transplant process.