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Nurses plea for people in Greater Manchester to donate their sight

Date published: 10 October 2018


Nurses are urging people in Greater Manchester to support World Sight Day by agreeing to donate their sight.

In the last year, 308 people in the North West have had their sight restored through cornea transplants however there is currently a shortage of eye donors. Corneas are the clear tissue on the front of the eye that help the eye to focus light.

A reserve of 350 corneas need to be kept in the Bristol and Manchester eye banks, however as of September 27th only 285 are stored. The eye banks are 19% below the level required to meet demand. The NHS Blood and Transplant Manchester eye bank is on the site of Manchester Royal Eye Hospital.

NHS Blood and Transplant has formed partnerships with several hospitals in the South East, Bristol, and Greater Manchester, to help address the national shortage and increase the amount of people who donate their corneas when they die.

The NHS trusts who have developed a special arrangement with NHS Blood and Transplant include Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, and Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust.

These hospitals are all close to eye and tissue retrieval teams and are in areas with higher numbers of potential donors.

The hospitals now have systems to routinely notify NHS Blood and Transplant of all potential donors who have died in the hospital, so that specialist nurses can discuss the possibility of their loved one donating their corneas and other tissue to help others.

The latest local figures are that:

  • In Bury, 8 cornea transplants took place during 2017/2018
  • In Bolton, 15 cornea transplants took place during 2017/2018
  • In Manchester, 29 cornea transplants took place during 2017/2018
  • In Oldham, 16 cornea transplants took place during 2017/2018
  • In Rochdale, 7 cornea transplants took place during 2017/2018
  • In Salford, 12 cornea transplants took place during 2017/2018
  • In Stockport, 17 cornea transplants took place during 2017/2018
  • In Tameside, 12 cornea transplants took place during 2017/2018
  • In Trafford, 23 cornea transplants took place during 2017/2018
  • In Wigan, 9 cornea transplants took place during 2017/2018

Michelle Bennett, NHS Blood and Transplant Nurse Practitioner, who works with these Greater Manchester hospitals, said: “Donating sight means there can be light after darkness.

“But too many people are spending World Sight Day unable to see their families due to a national shortage of donors.

“Our eye banks are currently well below the level we’d like to see. We understand that people often view the eyes with more emotion and see them as symbolic than other parts of the body.

“Eye donation does not cause any disfigurement although the whole eye is donated, only the cornea is transplanted into the recipient. The cornea is the thin, clear tissue covering the front of the eye. Many people can donate their eyes for cornea transplants when they die, including people with most types of cancer.

“We hope with more understanding around how corneas are used people in Greater Manchester can help us by saying yes to cornea donation and can help give the gift of sight to another.

“Almost anyone can donate their sight. People tell us the decision to donate brings a sense of pride and comfort.

“Please, support sight donation and help patients see what they can currently only imagine.”

Around 3,000 people agree to donate their relative’s corneas each year.

People may lose their sight as the result of damage caused by eye disease or injury, or defects from birth.

You can donate your corneas up to 24 hours after you die, and unlike with organ donation you don’t have to die in a hospital intensive care unit or A&E department to become a donor.  Donation can take place after death in hospital, in hospices or in funeral home.

It only takes two minutes to join the NHS Organ Donor Register. Join today. 

Make sure you have told those closest to you that you have signed up so that they know to honour your decision.

Say YesIdonate to cornea donation, join the NHS Organ Donor Register.

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