Each year, tens of thousands of people have their sight restored through corneal transplant, a procedure that replaces an impaired cornea with a healthy donor cornea.
When a person passes away, cornea recovery is typically conducted after a SightLife Tissue Donor Coordinator (TDC) speaks with the decedent’s family to discuss the donation choice of their loved one. Although these conversations are understandably not easy, they are critical to the donation process occurring no more than twelve hours after death, which helps SightLife and our recovery partners ensure a successful transplant.
The thoughtful decision to participate in cornea donation creates a lasting legacy of generosity that can help with healing and remembrance.
If Your Loved One Lived in Washington state: Your conversations with a SightLife TDC may also explore the opportunity to help others through musculoskeletal and cardiovascular tissue donation. This is because SightLife serves not only as the state’s only cornea recovery organization, but also as the principal coordinator of tissue donation for Washington’s only organ and tissue recovery agencies, LifeCenter Northwest and LifeNet Health. Musculoskeletal and cardiovascular tissue donations help save lives, improve health, and restore livelihoods for hundreds of thousands of Americans each year. Additionally, by serving in this role, SightLife ensures that you receive as few telephone calls as possible after your loved one passes. We also ensure the donation process advances with best-in-class care and purpose – centering the needs of donor families and transplant recipients of the way.
To explore if registering as an eye donor is right for you, we offer answers to our most frequently asked questions about donation below.
Tens of thousands of people a year have their sight restored through corneal transplants. Hundreds of thousands more are helped through advancements made possible by research. One eye donor can give two people the gift of sight. Corneal transplantation has the highest transplant success rate, exceeding 95%.
Almost anyone can be an eye donor, including individuals with cataracts, poor eyesight (wearing glasses or contacts), or those with a diagnosis of cancer. Age also does not prohibit eye donation.
An eye bank recovers, medically evaluates, and/or distributes eye donations for use in cornea transplantation, research and education. Eye banks are nonprofit organizations.
The cornea is the clear surface at the front of the eye – the window into the eye. It is the main element for focusing. If it becomes cloudy due to disease or injury, vision will be dramatically reduced or completely lost.
A cornea transplant is surgery to replace part of or all of an impaired cornea with healthy donor corneal tissue. The cornea has no blood vessels, so matching a donor to a recipient is not necessary, as in the case of organ donation.
The number one priority in the healthcare setting is to save lives. Donation can only be considered after death, with the cooperation of your family members. Prior to death, transplant physicians are not involved in your medical care.
Most religions support donation and consider donation a great gift. Check with your religious leader for any specific questions.
If a viewing is possible, donation typically does not prevent a viewing.
You can register today to become a donor! You can also sign up automatically by clicking “yes” when you obtain or renew your driver's license. We also recommend discussing your wishes with your family.
Donatable tissues include eyes, skin, bone, heart valves, and tendons. Organs that can be donated include the heart, kidneys, pancreas, lungs, liver, and intestines. While corneal transplants make up the majority of eye transplant procedures, the sclera (or “white” of the eye) can also be transplanted.
In Washington state, SightLife serves a dual role as the state’s only cornea recovery agency and principal coordinator of tissue donation for the state’s only organ and tissue recovery agencies, LifeCenter Northwest and LifeNet Health. In this role, SightLife ensures that you receive as few telephone calls as possible after your loved one passes. It also helps the donation process advance with best-in-class care and purpose by centering the needs of donor families and patients every step of the way.