Staff at a Colchester hospital are supporting World Sight Day (12 Oct) by asking people in north east Essex to agree to donate their sight and help patients see again.
There is currently a shortage of eye donors and NHS Blood and Transplant’s eye banks are 21% below the level required to meet demand.
In 2016/17, 35 people had corneal transplants at Essex County Hospital with corneas donated through NHS Blood and Transplant.
Almost anyone can donate their eyes for corneal transplants when they die, including people with some cancers. Corneas are the clear tissue on the front of the eye that help the eye to focus light.
Mr Jignesh Patel, a consultant ophthalmologist based at Essex County Hospital, said: “Donating sight can enable people to see again.
“Corneal transplants help restore the sight of our patients and it’s only possible thanks to the generosity of donors.
“We need more people in north east Essex to help with the national shortage of donors by agreeing to donate their eyes.
“Nine in 10 people on the NHS Organ Donor Register are willing to donate their sight when they die. Please make sure you’re one of them.”
About 3,000 families agree to donate their relative’s eyes each year. The whole eye is donated but only the cornea is transplanted into the recipient. Eyes donated in one area can be used for corneal transplants in other parts of the country.
People may lose their sight as the result of damage caused by eye disease or injury, or defects from birth.
You can donate your corneas up to 24 hours after you die and, unlike with organ donation, you don’t have to die in a hospital intensive care unit or Emergency Department (A&E) to become a donor. Donation can take place after death in hospital, in hospices or in funeral homes.
Helen Gillan, General Manager for Tissue and Eye Services at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “Donating sight means there can be light after darkness.
“But too many people are spending World Sight Day unable to see their families due to a national shortage of donors.
“Our eye banks are currently well below the level we’d like to see. People in north east Essex can help us by saying yes to cornea donation.
“Almost anyone can donate their sight. People tell us the decision to donate brings a sense of pride and comfort.
“Please support sight donation and help patients see what they can currently only imagine.”
If you are on the NHS Organ Donor Register already, make sure you tell those closest to you so they know to support your decision.
If you have registered but aren’t sure if you said yes to cornea donation, you can update your preferences at www.organdonation.nhs.uk
If you aren’t already registered, sign up! Most people choose to donate all organs and tissues. However, should you wish to select your preference, please say yes to cornea donation. Don’t forget to share your decision with those closest to you.
Note to editors:
NHS Blood and Transplant is a joint England and Wales Special Health Authority. It is responsible for ensuring a safe and efficient supply of blood and associated services to the NHS in England. It is also the organ donation organisation for the UK and is responsible for matching and allocating donated organs.
For further information:
Contact Mark Prentice at Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust.
Tel 01206 742752 or email firstname.lastname@example.org