Eye Donation Month Puts the Focus on Donors

The Eye Bank Association of America launched a new campaign to highlight the need for eye donations and how they can revive sight for those who receive them.

For more than 30 years, the Eye Bank Association of America put on a campaign called National Eye Donor Month, which took place each March.

But in an effort to revive interest in the concept, EBAA is taking on a new tactic to encourage the donation of eye parts such as corneas. The group recently launched Eye Donation Month, which is now taking place in November.

EBAA and its 85 member eye banks will work on highlighting the efforts to give sight to those who need it, as well as encouraging others to donate. “Eye bank staff, funeral directors, medical examiners/coroners, hospital administrators, cornea donor families, and cornea recipients are the enduring champions for the millions of people around the world whose lives are transformed through cornea donation and transplantation,” the association stated in a news release [PDF].

As part of the campaign, EBAA is spotlighting (both on social media and its website) donors whose families chose to give away their organs after their deaths, particularly their corneas, which allowed recipients to regain the gift of sight. One such story deals with Maddie, a high school student whose family decided to donate her organs after she died in a car crash.

“Maddie’s gift will touch approximately 67 lives. Not long ago, we received a letter from Saving Sight that stated Maddie’s corneas were placed with a 5-year-old girl,” her father wrote. “Knowing Maddie’s giving spirit, I am sure she is smiling down on us every day because we allowed her to help that little girl.”

Beyond the association’s long history of awareness on this issue—the first edition of National Eye Donor Month took place back in 1983 with the support of President Ronald Reagan—EBAA is focused on the ethics of the practice of using eye tissues for transplants. Earlier this year, the group took part in the Barcelona Principles, an agreement among ophthalmology and eye bank groups on how to properly and ethically use and manage donated eye tissues.

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Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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