Record high cornea donation numbers reflect the nation’s tremendous generosity
This year, Singapore Eye Bank (SEB) celebrates their 25th anniversary of providing human corneal tissue of excellent quality to patients in need of corneal transplant. Founded in 1991, SEB manages its highly successful local Hospital Eye Donation Program and actively participates in the national multi-organ donation programs.
With even more reasons to mark their silver jubilee, the momentous occasion also commemorates the organisation’s history in receiving the highest number of cornea donations of 222 in 2015, a record high from the previous year’s 127 cornea donations. Patients on the local waiting list dropped by 32%. The accomplishment recognises the nation’s increasing unity to come together in restoring sight to others over the last 25 years. A most recent 2016 study on global transplantation rates has now revealed that Singapore is the only Asian country within the top 10 countries which have the highest per capita transplant rate, and is also among the top 3 Asian countries in corneal tissue procurement per capita, along with Sri Lanka, our eye banking partner, and India.
For many eye donor recipients, the gift of sight is renewed with a legacy of grace and generosity lived through the lives of others. The sight-saving work that these donors have selflessly contributed plays a critical role in corneal transplant and grants a whole new vision for the future.
“Over the years we have seen the growth of a meritorious and gracious society, eye donation has steadily increased with 2015 being our best year yet. We recognise that though at a difficult time of bereavement, many Singaporeans are opting to making the decision to give the gift of sight to another. We are especially grateful to the many donors and donor families who has benefitted the lives of others”, Professor Donald Tan, Medical Director of SEB.
The cornea is the transparent layer forming the front of the eye, and many patients suffering from corneal blindness are able to restore their sight through corneal donation. This process starts with an individual’s decision to be an eye, tissue and organ donor, and the Singapore Eye Bank facilitates this important process. People are becoming more educated and aware of the cornea donation process, in that it is a quick and straightforward procedure without any disfigurement. As a result, potential donors and donor families are becoming more open and receptive towards pledging their corneas.
According to combined statistics from all the public hospitals in Singapore, the consent rate of potential donors and donor families is between 50% to 65%.
SEB hopes to continue to move forward and increase awareness on cornea donation in ensuring its best to meet the demands of patients waiting for corneal grafts in Singapore. By extensively identifying potential donors and focusing on cornea donation counselling, it hopes to increase the number of actualised cases. SEB is also looking into more means of making it easier to obtain surrogate or familial consent, such as phone interviews, so as to achieve higher rates of procurement of cornea donations.