The Launch of KGMU UP Community Eye Bank
Uttar Pradesh (UP) is important to us at SightLife. India has the largest visually challenged population in the world. In UP alone, the most populated state in India, 190,000 people are waiting or a sight-restoring corneal transplant.
Last year 50,000 corneal transplants were performed in the U.S. Compare that to the state of Uttar Pradesh, which has two thirds the population of the U.S., and where less than 700 transplants were performed. To say the need is great is an incredible understatement.
That’s why we are incredibly pleased to announce the recent opening of a new eye bank dedicated to the people of UP. Located in the public hospital of King George Medical University, the eye bank, called the KGMU UP Community Eye Bank, promises to provide timely service to those in the greatest need.
“This eye bank will enable us to facilitate life-changing surgeries and restore sight to so many more people waiting in darkness. It is a critical step in SightLife’s mission to eliminate corneal blindness worldwide by 2040.” Stated Monty Montoya, President and CEO of SightLife.
It has definitely been a team effort! Through generous financial support by The Hans Foundation, the eye bank is operated by SightLife in technical partnership with Sitapur Eye Hospital Trust. It’s also the first private-public partnership in Uttar Pradesh and will provide a full-scope of services including; counseling for families, cornea recovery and processing, distribution of corneal tissue to surgeons and training for technicians and surgeons.
SightLife’s own Patrick Emery, Sr., Director of Eye Bank Operations, moved to India and has been living there for the past year to ensure the success of this monumental event. He was pleased to report that the first corneal transplant using tissue from KGMU UP Community Eye Bank was performed on November 21, 2016.
“With the advent of this eye bank, we are now in a position to remove corneal blindness in our state, we are very excited about that,” stated Dr. Arun K. Sharma, Medical Director for the Eye Bank and Associate Professor of KGMU, Ophthalmology Department.
Lt. General S. M. Mehta, CEO of The Hans Foundation added, “Eye care has been a significant part of health interventions supported by our organization. Supporting SightLife and KGMU in setting up this eye bank in Lucknow is a manifestation of our continued resolve in this direction.
The Eye Bank also received financial support from the Indiana Lions Eye Bank and contributions from SightLife staff. With plans to replicate the eye bank in other states identified to have a similar need, SightLife intends for the KGMU UP Community Eye Bank to be the gold standard of partnership, excellence and commitment to eliminating corneal blindness across India and beyond.