Recently, I visited the Oklmulgee County Lions Club at their weekly luncheon. Here is the news article that followed.
Monday, 13 July 2015 14:23
Sight Conservation is one of Lions Club's major international projects
The Okmulgee County Lions Club met today at the Episcopalian Church for their weekly luncheon meeting. This meeting marked the first for Beth Flud as President of the Okmulgee Lions and she took the opportunity to thank those who volunteered their time at the fireworks stand, reporting that the stand brought in over $20,000 in sales.
Tuesday's speaker was Lori Miller of the Oklahoma Lions Eye Bank in Oklahoma City. The Eye Bank harvests donor corneas and completes cornea transplants. Miller informed the club that in October of 2014 the Eye Bank relocated to a new building that is six times larger than the lab and office space they had before. Miller, an army veteran and former funeral director and embalmer, has been the Executive Director of the Eye Bank since March but has been with the facility since 2008.
This year to date, the Eye Bank has recovered 246 donors, in comparison to 122 donors in 2013 and 214 at this time in 2014. Miller states that she expects to have 500 donors by the end of the year. The corneas harvested are used both locally, nationally, and internationally. Over 200 corneas have been placed internationally through the OLEB this year.
Miller states that the first priority of OLEB is to place corneas domestically, but that if a placement is not found domestically during the ideal placement time - within seven days - that those corneas will be sent to International Sight Restoration in Tampa to find a suitable recipient for the corneas, which are only viable for two weeks.
Unlike other organ donations, corneas do not have to match blood type, sex, or size. Donors can be from ages 2-70 and can be used on patients said to be as young as 9 months or up to 104 years old.
Okmulgee County Lions Club has frequently been one of the states largest financial donors, with funding for the OLEB coming solely from Lions Clubs around the state. Future plans for the OLEB include purchasing the equipment to prepare tissue in house. The equipment and lab modifications will cost approximately $75 to $100,000. Miller states that this funding will most likely be obtained by applying for a grant through Lions Club International Foundation. These changes are expected within the next two to three years.