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University of Iowa News Release

Oct. 6, 2005

Iowa Lions, UI Hospitals And Clinics To Dedicate Donor Memorial

Officials will dedicate the state's largest Donor Memorial and Healing Garden in honor of eye, organ and tissue donors at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City during a special ceremony at 2 p.m. Monday, Oct. 10.

Iowa Lions Club members across the state funded the project.

Iowa Lions Clubs have a long history of supporting donation and transplantation through their devotion to the Iowa Lions Eye Bank, located at 2346 Mormon Trek Blvd. in Iowa City. The Eye Bank will celebrate its 50th anniversary this year.

"The support provided by the Iowa Lions Clubs to the Eye Bank for the past five decades is unsurpassed," said John Sutphin, M.D., UI clinical professor of ophthalmology and medical director of the Iowa Lions Eye Bank. "The memorial recognizes not only the donors themselves, but the families who often have to make difficult decisions in times of great personal loss. We hope this garden will be used by patients and their families as a place of solace while away from home."

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 Iowa Lions and Lioness club members play a vital role in the success of the Eye Bank.

The Iowa Lions Eye Bank reported a record year in 2004, with 1,065 donor eyes received and 686 corneas provided for transplant. Of that total, 252 Iowans and 228 patients elsewhere in the United States received corneal transplants, while 206 were provided internationally for transplant. Since 1961, eye banks nationwide have made possible more than one million sight-restoring corneal transplants, and the Iowa Lions Eye Bank provided tissue for 11,505 such transplants in that period. 

The Iowa Lions Eye Bank also plays a central role in research. The bank provides 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.

Iowans are fortunate that they do not have to wait if they need a corneal transplant, but the need across the United Sates is great. The Iowa Lions Eye Bank is also among 32 U.S. eye banks participating in a five-year study of the potential viability of accepting older adults as eye donors.

For more information about the Iowa Lions Eye Bank and how you can also contribute to the Donor Memorial and Healing Garden project, contact Cindy Reed at 319-356-2871. Anyone interested in supporting the Donor Memorial Healing Garden through gifts or naming opportunities or the Iowa Lions Eye Bank may also log onto www.givetoiowa.org/lions or www.ialeb.org to make a donation online.

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 http://www.uihealthcare.com.

STORY SOURCE: Joint Office for Marketing and Communications, University of Iowa Health Care, 200 Hawkins Drive, Room E110 GH, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1009

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Moore, 319-356-3945, thomas-moore@uiowa.edu.