A non-governmental organisation, Eye Bank for Restoring Sight, has pleaded with Nigerians to donate their corneas, a transparent surface that covers the front part of the eye, after death. The Medical Director of the organisation, Dr. Mosunmade Faderin said since the eyes were not needed after death, they could be harvested and used to help blind people regain their sight.
“Those who suffer from corneal blindness can have their sight restored if they can receive a healthy corneas from donors.
“As individuals, we can sign written permission for our corneas to be harvested at death, in order to restore the sight of a living blind person,” Faderin noted.
She said globally, 30 per cent of visual impairment was due to corneal blindness, a condition that was reversible through cornea transplantation, otherwise known as keratoplasty.
She said the EBRS was established to aid the harvesting, processing and distribution of donor eye tissues for sight-saving corneal transplants, medical education and research into causes and treatment of eye diseases and had helped many to regain the use of their eyes. However, she said, the NGO was continually in need of donors, as it currently had about 100 patients on its waiting list. She added that most of the tissues that the organisation had used were accessed from overseas at exorbitant cost.
Also, the EBRS Chairman Board of Trustees, Dr. Olaseinde Akinsete, said that in an attempt to improve restoration of sight to the blind, the EBRS had facilitated 98 cornea operations, with over 90 per cent success rate. Akinsete noted with regrets that although the Gen. Yakubu Gowon administration promulgated Decree 23 on May 5, 1973, entitled Cornea Grafting, following his recommendations, not many cornea grafting procedures had been done in Nigeria, while only a handful of Nigerians have donated their corneas after death. He said there would be more success stories if Nigerians could imbibe the habit of donating their eyes after death.