Eye organ donor - Yes Eye Can

The Moorfields Lions Eye Bank (MLEB) no longer consents and retrieves tissues. Tissues are acquired from a range of regulatory approved suppliers, NHSBT here in the UK and other Third Country suppliers (3CS). There are upwards of 1000 individual tissue requiring procedures undertaken at Moorfields.

The Moorfields Lions Eye Bank (MLEB) is situated on the Lower Ground Floor of City Road. The department provides material (tissue) required for scheduled surgery; sclera, corneas, amniotic membrane and fascia/pericardium.

As these are human tissues they fall under the Human Tissue Act and thus the Human Tissue Authority (HTA), whom regularly inspect the work of the MLEB for compliance with their standards, guidance and associated directives.

The Trust has a Designated Individual (DI) who is responsible for implementing the standards and ultimately ensuring that all human tissue is received, handled, stored, tracked and disposed of appropriately.

At present, the Eye bank orders human eye tissue from accredited external suppliers whom consent, retrieve, process and transport material to the Moorfields Lions Eye Bank in accordance to national and international standards.

The Eye Bank assures all eye tissue products are procured to satisfy the expectations of both our service users and patients whilst in full compliance to applicable regulations and standards as prescribed by the Human Tissue Authority.


Register as an organ donor

One pair of donated eyes can provide treatment for up to 10 different people; each cornea can be transplanted, while each sclera (the white tissue around the eye) can be divided in four and used as a patch graft for some glaucoma surgery patients. With the right consent, we can also use other non-transplantable parts of donated eye tissues for research to develop new treatments for the future.

In the UK, organ donation falls under the auspices of NHS Blood and Transplant services. You can register to become a donor on the NHS organ donor register.  Forms are also available from GP surgeries, chemists and hospitals. 

The Human Tissue Act 2004 clarified the consent status of someone who has died,  and your wishes - and those of your family - are paramount. So, please speak to your close family and loved ones to ensure they are aware of your wishes to donate.


Eye bank frequently asked questions

What is an eye bank?

An eye bank obtains, medically evaluates and distributes eyes donated by caring individuals for use in corneal transplantation, research, and education. Eye banks are non-profit organisations.


What is the cornea?

The cornea is the clear tissue covering the front of the eye. It is the main focusing element of the eye. Vision will be dramatically reduced if the cornea becomes cloudy from disease, injury or infection.


What is a corneal transplant?

This is a surgical procedure which replaces a disc-shaped segment of an impaired cornea with a similarly shaped piece of a healthy donor cornea. 

For more information on the corneal transplant operation, please corneal graft.


What is corneal blindness?

Corneal blindness is a disorder that results from the cornea becoming clouded, making a person blind. This condition can result from a variety of diseases, injury or infection.


Why should eyes be donated?

The transplantation process depends upon the priceless gift of corneal donation from one human to the next. Donated human eyes and corneal tissue are used for research, education, and transplantation.


Who can be a donor?

Anyone can. Cataracts, poor eyesight, or age do not prevent you from being a donor. It is important for individuals wanting to be donors to inform family members of their wishes.


Will the quality of my medical treatment be affected if I am a known donor?

No. Strict laws are in existence which protect the potential donor. Legal guidelines must be followed before death can be certified. The physician certifying a patient's death is not involved with the eye procurement or with the transplant.


How great is the need for corneas?

The need for corneal tissue is never satisfied, as patients who might benefit from the procedure are regularly identified. Corneal tissue can also only be stored for a limited amount of time. To date, the use of artificial tissue for transplantation has been unsuccessful.


Will the recipient be told who donated the corneas?

The gift is made anonymously, and specific information about the donor or his/her family is not available to the recipient. The eye bank will convey a recipient's thanks to the donor family.


s there a fee charged for this donation?

No. It is illegal to buy or sell human eyes, organs, and tissues. Any costs associated with eye procurement are absorbed by the eye bank placing the tissue.


If I have already signed a donor card, how can I make sure my wishes are respected?

Tell your family you want to be an eye or organ donor.


Is there any delay in funeral arrangements?

No. Eye tissue procurement is performed within hours of death. Families may proceed with funeral arrangements without delay or interruption.


Will eye donation affect the appearance of the donor?

No. Great care is taken to preserve the donor's appearance. Funeral arrangements, including a viewing if desired, may proceed as scheduled.