Eye Donors & Recipients


Have you been told you need a corneal transplant? This page will help you find answers to some of your concerns by addressing the more common questions about corneal transplant. You will also find a brief description of the process from Donor to Recipient.

Eye Donation Process

The Call
The Eye Bank of Kentucky receives a call from a hospital or an organ procurement organization that an individual has died and has met preliminary criteria for donation. The eye bank has a very short time within which to contact the next of kin, obtain consent and recover the tissue. This generally needs to happen within 16 hours of the time of death.

The Contact
The eye bank contacts the next of kin by phone to obtain consent for the donation of the individual’s corneas.

The Consent
If consent is given, the next of kin is asked to complete a medical-social history interview. This interview provides the eye bank with information to make a donor eligibility determination.

The Donor Medical Review
After consent is given, the eye bank obtains copies of relevant medical records for review from the hospital, a step in the process of creating a complete donor profile. Blood tests for diseases such as AIDS/HIV and Hepatitis are performed to confirm that these will not be transmitted to the recipient.

After Recovery
After recovering the corneas, the tissue is placed in a solution. This solution keeps the tissue viable and helps to reduce bacterial growth. The technician then transports the corneas back to the eye bank’s laboratory.

The Evaluation
Specially trained technicians evaluate the cornea through microscopes to ensure that it meets the eye bank’s strict criteria for transplantation.

The Eligibility Determination
The eye bank’s medical director or his/her designee reviews the records for the donor and makes a final eligibility determination in accordance with the Eye Bank Association of America (EBAA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) strict Medical Standards.

The Release of Tissue
If the medical director or his/her designee authorizes a release of the tissue, the cornea is then offered to the surgeons for transplant on a fair and equitable system. The cornea is labeled with a unique identification number to allow the eye bank to track the tissue from donor to recipient. It’s then shipped or delivered to the surgeon or another eye bank for transplant.

Donor Family Letter

To My Donor Family,

Losing my sight changed my life completely! It was devastating. I went from being a vibrant, independent, young woman to someone who was completely dependent on others. I lost my freedom and could no longer function as I once could. I became very depressed and hopeless.

None of what I went through compares to what you had to experience. The loss of a loved one is something from which you will never recover. Through your loss, you gave me a precious gift. The gift that gave my life back! I received a cornea from your loved one on October 9. My sight was restored along with my faith and zest for life.

In your darkest hours, you were unselfish in your decision. Please take comfort in knowing your loved one lives on, not only in your heart but in me. Each day I wake up and see the world through the eye of your loved one. Because of this remarkable gift, I will one day see my groom at the end of the church aisle. I will see the faces of my unborn children. Words cannot express my gratitude.

May God bless you!

Love always,