A young member of the Perry, Oklahoma Lions Club became interested in the work of Eye Banks after hearing about them while attending a Lions Convention in the East. He sold the idea to the Lions of Oklahoma at a State Convention in 1957. It was voted on and adopted as a state project. This necessitated passage of an Oklahoma law to legalize the willing of any part of a person’s body. Lions did lobbying and leg work, which brought about the writing and passage of such a bill by the 1957 Legislature.
The Eye Bank office opened December 2nd of that year with one employee, a Medical Director and the ophthalmology residents who performed the eye removals. The first eye enucleation course was given at Central State University through the Department of Mortuary Service for Funeral Directors. They learned to do eye retrievals throughout the state. After removal the local Highway Patrol personnel were called to transport the eyes to the Eye Bank.
The first office was located at University Hospital in the Health Science Center. In 1975, the office moved to Dean McGee Eye Institute. In 1984, a technician was employed to open a branch office in Tulsa. In 1989, the Eye Bank moved to Presbyterian Professional Building due to space shortage in the Eye Institute, but in December 1992 moved back to Dean McGee Eye Institute. In October 1997 an office building was purchased on North Lincoln Boulevard where we are located today. There are currently ten full time employees in Oklahoma City.
In 1981 the Eye Bank was certified by the Eye Bank Association of America. We are charter members of this group. This is a non-profit organization of eye banks dedicated to the restoration of sight through the promotion and advancement of eye banking. Established by the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s committee on eye banks, EBAA’s 160 member eye banks include branches located in states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Canada and make possible over 40,000 transplantations annually. As the oldest transplantation organization, the EBAA has led the transplantation field with the establishment of medical standards for the procurement and distribution of eyes, and comprehensive training and certification programs for eye banking personnel. These standards and certification programs have been used as models for other transplantation organizations.
Eye Bank Technicians are also certified by the EBAA. They attend educational sessions at national EBAA conventions annually, as well as complete Continuing Education on a yearly basis. The Eye Bank, itself, is inspected and recertified every three years by EBAA.