“This is truly the first time that a group of corneal surgeons and hospitals have stood together to demand better service from an antiquated national eye banking system.”
With vision and persistence, Dr. Holsclaw and other TPMG cornea specialists transformed the process of obtaining tissue to restore the sight of their patients. The new program improved the quality of corneal tissue for our members, and it is a model program for humanitarian cornea donation.
In 2008, acquiring an adequate supply of local high-quality corneas was difficult; staff members had to contact eye banks in other states, where donation rates are higher than in California.
Because eye banks give preference to their local hospitals, TPMG surgeons were faced with a tenuous supply of corneas, which led to delays in surgery and an average cancellation rate of nearly 7%.
That changed with the unique partnership Dr. Holsclaw forged with SightLife, a not-for-profit eye bank based in Seattle, which provides high-quality tissue to hospitals internationally. As a result of the partnership, our patients receive the highest quality corneas, and surgical case delays and cancellations have been virtually eliminated.
The impact on the donation side has been equally remarkable. Working with KPNC nurses, staff and patient families, SightLife has dramatically increased the number of corneas harvested at our hospitals.
Of the approximately 750 corneas obtained annually, more than 400 are donated to our patients for sightrestoring surgery. The remaining corneas are made available to other hospitals. Through this program, KP donors have helped restore sight in 27 countries, including Mongolia, Ethiopia, Germany, and Japan.