Eye & Tissue Donation
Almost anyone can give the lifesaving and lifegiving gift of sight, regardless of the donor’s age, eye color and eyesight.
While many use the term “eye donation”, there is no whole eye transplantation. There are two types of donor eye tissues: the cornea, the clear lens covering the front of the eye, which can replace a damaged cornea to restore eyesight; and the sclera, or white portion of the eye, which can be used for reconstructive eye surgeries.
NYP performed over 150 corneal transplants in 2020
Annually, more than 80,000 corneas are provided for transplant in the U.S., and more than 1,200 of those sight-restoring transplants took place in the New York metropolitan area. Recipients of donor eye tissue range in age from newborns through adulthood.
Eye donations can also contribute to valuable research into the cure and treatment of blinding eye diseases.
Eye donation should not delay funeral arrangements or prevent having an open casket service.
NewYork-Presbyterian transplant recipient Emily with her surgeon George J. Florakis, who is currently a Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology at the Columbia University Medical Center and director of the Cornea Clinic of the Edward S. Harkness Eye Institute in New York.
Tissue donation is an opportunity for deceased patients who do not meet the criteria for organ donation to give the gift of life and healing and strengthen their legacy. Every year, nearly one million lives are transformed by tissue donation. A single tissue donor can improve the lives of up to 75 people.
There are many benefits of donated tissue:
- Heart valves replace failing valves; most are used in children and women of childbearing age.
- Tendons and ligaments return mobility and stabilize joints such as in knee reconstruction.
- Bones have many uses including spinal fusion, hip and knee repair, and surgical reconstruction.
- Veins and arteries are used to increase circulation in heart bypass and limb salvage surgery.
- Skin saves the lives of burn patients.
The New York Firefighters Skin Bank, located in NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, is the only comprehensive skin bank in New York State, providing skin grafts from donated tissue to patients throughout the country.
Without donors and the determination of donor families, these lifesaving surgeries would not be possible.
Tissue donation does not disfigure the body or delay funeral arrangements. Great care is taken with all donors to ensure that open casket funerals are possible if desired.