I read with great interest the article earlier this week about the cornea donation from a young boy in Montana. As Wyoming’s primary eye bank responsible for fulfilling the wishes of eye donors, I thought your readers may like to know how the people in our state give the gift of sight in this way every day. The Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Bank (RMLEB) is the nonprofit organization responsible for the recovery and transplantation of donated eye tissues in Wyoming except for Lincoln, Sweetwater and Uinta counties. RMLEB’s mission is to fulfill the wishes of eye donors and their families to help another overcome blindness through transplantation and research. Our dedication to this mission allows eye donors in Wyoming to provide nearly 150 sight-restorative transplants each year.
Nearly 59% of people with driver’s licenses and ID cards in Wyoming have joined the state Donor Registry to help others by being an eye, organ and tissue donor upon their death. In 2016, Wyoming ranked tenth in the nation. The national average is 49%. One can designate their decision to be a donor regardless of age or health condition.
Corneas are used to treat individuals with corneal blindness. A cornea transplant is a surgical procedure to replace part of the cornea with corneal tissue from a donor. A cornea transplant can reduce pain and restore vision to a damaged or diseased cornea with a 98% success rate. The first successful cornea transplant was performed by Dr. Eduard Zirm in 1905- 112 years ago.
The Lions of Colorado and Wyoming founded RMLEB in 1982. RMLEB is now recognized the world over for its eye banking expertise. Donated eye tissues are first placed with local recipients. If a suitable recipient cannot be found locally, a search is conducted with other U.S. eye banks. Finally a search is conducted through international networks to find a recipient. In this way, no transplantable cornea is ever wasted.
We, as Wyomingites, can all be proud of the generosity found in our state. Those who benefit through corneal transplants made possible by Wyoming donors would agree.