Are you registered to be an eye, organ, and tissue donor?
Almost anyone can be a cornea donor, regardless of vision, age, or past ocular health issues. Read this member minute profile to find out how you can become a donor and help raise awareness of eye donation with Kansas Eye Bank this November during Eye Donation month.
Please tell us a little bit about Kansas Eye Bank & Cornea Research Center (KEB).
KEB works every day to restore and preserve eye sight by facilitating eye donation in Kansas for transplantation. We are accredited by the Eye Bank Association of America (EBAA) to recover tissue from authorized eye donors, which we then evaluate, process, store, and distribute to surgeons for transplantation. We were founded in 1986 by Wichita eye surgeons as the Wichita Eye Foundation, and have evolved over the years to provide ocular tissue for transplants all over the world, annually increasing our international presence, but also firmly of the belief to facilitate transplants right here in Wichita. As a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, we have 20 staff members that dedicate their careers to restoring eye sight for those affected with corneal blindness.
Describe a recent success.
In 2018, KEB became authorized for a technical eye tissue processing technique to provide recovered and medically cleared corneas for Endothelial Keratoplasty (EK), requiring the cornea’s inner layer be dissected using a mechanical mirokeratome blade, which would then be provided to the surgeon for transplantation. This procedure has led to incredibly high outcomes in restoring corneal clarity and improved vision for recipients.
To what do you attribute your success?
Adding EK processing techniques to our menu of services has directly impacted our overall operations as an independent eye bank, in that we are not reliant on partner eye banks to provide such services for our local surgeons. An added benefit is that more eye donors from Kansas and their families will take comfort in knowing that more corneas for transplant are able to remain in Kansas because of this procedure.
Do you have an upcoming event/program or product launch that might interest our members?
November is National Eye Donation Month, which commemorates the important choice that people make to join the organ, tissue, and eye donor registry when renewing or establishing their driver’s license. We celebrate the importance of registering to be a donor, education about eye donation, and acknowledge the work of eye banks across the United States. Registering as an eye donor is easy. Anyone can join the registry when renewing or first establishing their driver’s license or visiting www.donatelifekansas.com. Authorization for donation is the same for organs, tissues, and eyes.
What about your organization are you most passionate?
I am most passionate about promoting the donor registry, and helping people become aware of how their choices can transform another’s life through a cornea transplant. These sight restoring transplants are truly life-changing.
Why did you join the Chamber and what do you find most valuable about Chamber membership?
KEB joined the Chamber two years ago to broaden our local network, and learn from business owners and the business community at-large.
On a scale of 1 to 10, how strongly would you recommend Chamber membership to a colleague? Why?
10. The Chamber is the best place in town to connect to the business community in Wichita.
Other Chamber members you have partnered/worked with?
With Envision, KEB helped to found the Kansas Vision Coalition, gathering those that work with the blind and visually impaired throughout Kansas. As the incoming chairperson for the nonpartisan group, I will be charged with furthering the scope of the group, citing best practices, and advocating for early access to screening, eye exams, and interventions so that our youngest Kansans have the best opportunity to achieve in education and life.