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CONTACT: TOM MOORE
Joint Office for Planning, Marketing and Communications
8788 John Pappajohn Pavilion
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 356-3945
e-mail: thomas-moore@uiowa.edu

Release: April 11, 2002  

Iowa Lions Eye Bank to hold open house April 27

The Iowa Lions Eye Bank will hold an open house event from 1-4 p.m. Saturday, April 27, in its new facility located at 2346 Mormon Trek Blvd., Suite 1500, in Iowa City.

The eye bank moved from its original location in University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics last December 18.

"Our program has grown tremendously over the years and our new location is helping to meet our needs for expanded space and additional staff members," said Pat Mason, executive director of the Iowa Lions Eye Bank. "We will, of course, continue our close affiliation with UI Hospitals and Clinics in serving the needs of patients."

The Iowa Lions, in association with the UI Department of Ophthalmology under Alson E. Braley, M.D., established the Iowa Lions Eye Bank in 1955. Now, approximately 400 Lions and Lioness Clubs in Iowa help support the Iowa Lions Eye Bank through volunteerism and fundraising.  The nearly 13,000 Lions and Lioness club members play a vital role in the success of the eye bank.

Another vital volunteer link in the mission of the eye bank is the Iowa State Patrol. Troopers have transported donor eyes to the eye bank since its inception.

"We especially want to invite all eye donor families and corneal transplant recipients to join us for the open house event," Mason added. "The support we receive from the Iowa Lions is essential to our mission, but the real key to our success is the generosity of our donor families. The teamwork of everyone involved is what makes it possible to restore the gift of sight to so many people."

In 1999, eye bank technicians began traveling to hospitals within a 60-mile radius of Iowa City to recover corneal tissue from donated eyes. This process allows the cornea to be immediately preserved for transplantation, increasing the viability and quality of the tissue. In 2001, this recovery travel area was extended to all of eastern Iowa.

The Iowa Lions Eye Bank reported a record year in 2001, with 1,445 donor eyes received and 840 corneas provided for transplant. Of that total, 284 Iowans received corneal transplants, 280 corneas were offered to patients elsewhere in the United States and 276 were provided internationally. Since 1960, eye banks nationwide have made possible more than 700,000 sight-restoring corneal transplants, and the Iowa Lions Eye Bank provided tissue for 8,554 such transplants in that period.

The Iowa Lions Eye Bank also plays a central role in research. In 2001, the eye bank provided 368 donated eyes to the world-renowned UI Center for Macular Degeneration to study age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD is the leading cause of blindness in developed nations. The Iowa Lions Eye Bank is also among 32 eye banks in the United States participating in a five-year study of the potential viability of accepting older adults as eye donors.

The Iowa Lions Eye Bank is an accredited charter member of the Eye Bank Association of America and is inspected every three years to ensure quality control and adherence to strict medical standards. In addition, the Iowa Lions Eye Bank is one of only 13 U.S. eye banks belonging to Vision Share, a national leader in the eye banking community dedicated to promoting the highest possible standards for donor tissue, quality and donor screening.

For more information about the Iowa Lion Eye Bank open house event, contact Mason at (319) 356-2871. People who wish to attend the open house may R.S.V.P. by calling toll free (866) HELP-SEE (1-866-4357-733). Organizers will serve refreshments.  

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at www.uihealthcare.com.