April is National Donate Life Month! Over 48,000 Americans have their sight restored each year as a result of corneal transplants. Lions Eye Bank for Long Island and its 82 sister eye banks across the country provide the tissue that makes these life-enhancing procedures possible. Unlike other organs and tissue, U.S. eye banks secure a sufficient number of corneas to avoid shortages or wait lists. In fact, in 2017, eye banks in the U.S. provided over 84,000 corneas to patients in the U.S. and overseas, and another 24,000 corneas for research and training that may lead to preventative and restorative treatments for vision loss and eye damage. Without the generosity of over 69,000 eye donors each year, the above statistics would not be possible. Honoring their decision to donate their corneas upon death is the central aspect of the Lions Eye Bank for Long Island’s annual National Donate Life Month commemoration. 

Highlights of the Donate Life Month include Flag raisings, a rose garden ceremony and tabling events designed to honor those who have chosen to give the ultimate gift to save lives through organ, eye and tissue donation as well as highlight recipient stories of gratitude for receiving that gift.

Individuals interested in eye, tissue or organ donation should access their state registry on the Lions Eye Bank website, www.lebli.org. Donor designation can also be made through state entities such as your department of motor vehicles.

For the third year in a row, the majority of corneas were recovered from individuals listed on their states’ organ donor registry rather than through authorization by next of kin (NOK). First-person consent through donor registration facilitates the recovery process and ensures that the donor’s wishes are observed.

 For more information about National Donate Life Month or about Lions Eye Bank for Long Island, please contact Susan Zarola-Cohen, M.D. at szarolacoh@northwell.edu.