THE grateful family of a woman who had her sight saved by a cornea transplant have all signed up to become donors.
Maureen Why almost went blind when she contracted an infection while on holiday in Australia in April, 2008, which resulted in her having an abscess in her left eye.
Doctors Down Under feared she might lose her sight, but a skilled consultant at Worthing Hospital was able to save it by carrying out a cornea transplant just a few months later.
Now, her two children and six grandchildren have all pledged to donate their corneas after death, in a bid to help others who find themselves in the same situation.
Maureen, 69, of Arun Close, Rustington, said: “The treatment I have had at the hospital has been wonderful and I would say my sight is back to normal now.
“I would love to thank the person who donated their cornea because I never thought I would see out of that eye again.
“My family do carry donor cards but hadn’t ticked the box for eye donation because it’s not something you really think about.”
Maureen and her family are also supporting Western Sussex Hospitals Trust’s efforts to set up a service that will make more organs available for transplant.
Currently, people needing cornea transplants face long waits for surgery as there is a shortage of both donors and the medical teams needed to retrieve the organs and transport them to the NHS’s national tissue banks.
The trust will soon start developing a new, state-of-the-art eye centre at Southlands Hospital, and staff there are aiming to develop a retrieval service that will help expand national stocks of organs for use in transplants.
Maureen’s surgeon, consultant ophthalmologist Mr Masoud Teimory, said: “Cornea grafts are extremely successful – more than 90 per cent of the time the graft will take and the patient doesn’t need any rejection medicines like with a heart or kidney transplant.
“And when someone dies, their cornea can be removed up to 48 hours later and be stored for more than a month, which enables us to help more people and plan operations better.
To sign up to the Organ Donation Register, visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk or call 0300 123 23 23.