COVID-19 Hits Home: Help us Protect the Gift of Sight

COVID-19 Hits Home: Help us Protect the Gift of Sight

Millions depend on us—and now YOU.

SightLife has been closely following and adapting to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, not just because our headquarters are in Washington state, an early center of the U.S. spread, but also because we have staff and programs across the globe. COVID-19 is a crisis that impacts us all.

We hope you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy. Concerns abound, but as countless doctors, nurses, and public officials work heroically to reverse the pandemic’s rising tide worldwide, we are heartened by the progress achieved in South Korea, and now China, to flatten the curve and reduce pressure on healthcare systems. Such things would not be possible without the difficult yet determined effort of all residents doing their part.

That’s why SightLife took early action to institute social distancing, with staff working remotely from home. In addition, to help ensure the safety and protection of our broader healthcare family on the frontlines in the U.S., we moved quickly to honor the call by our U.S. Surgeon General and then the Washington State Governor to temporarily cancel elective surgeries, including corneal transplants.

We don’t regret it, but the steps we are taking in service to public health are impacting us financially. With no cornea going out, and no cost-recovery funds coming in, our eye bank operations are rapidly grinding to a halt. If, as experts predict, the pandemic extends for another three more months, it will cost our non-profit organization more than $5 million. This is money we don’t have.

Why not? In accordance with the U.S. National Organ Transplant Act (1984; 2018), SightLife already operates with extremely slim margins because it is unethical and illegal to profit off the recovery, processing, and distribution of human organs and tissue. The money we receive from our cornea donation and transplant partners follows a federally regulated fee-for-service model that covers nearly 85% of our non-profit operations.

And now, as the revenue we need to operate nears zero, so too decreases our ability to deliver our critical services to the 12.7 million people globally who are corneal blind, and moreover, suffering needlessly in the dark.

Now more than ever, we urgently need your support.

When we recognized the financial delta ahead of us, we took immediate action to institute austerity measures to reduce costs. Throughout, our north star priorities have included ensuring the health and safety of our beloved staff and preserving jobs. Not only are these priorities the right thing to do, they will help us be ready when the virus retreats and corneal transplant surgeries can begin again in earnest.

In these unprecedented times, you are likely supporting your families and communities in a myriad of remarkable and very generous ways. Whatever more you can give of your time and treasure to SightLife would be deeply appreciated as we work together to bridge the financial impacts of coronavirus on our organization.

We take heart knowing an investment in sight restoration is an investment in human progress. For every $1 spent tackling avoidable blindness, including corneal blindness, the data show a $5 return because it helps people stay in school, maintain employment, sustain independence and provide for their loved ones.

Most importantly, while everyone must play a part to drive COVID-19 from our communities, we must do so without compromising our commitment the power and impact of sight for those still suffering needlessly in the dark. They depend on us, and we can’t let them down.

In addition to making a financial contribution, there are key actions you can take RIGHT NOW to alert your elected officials to SightLife’s needs and unique financial constraints as a non-profit eye and tissue donation agency navigating the medical and economic impacts of COVID-19. >>Learn More