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People in Pennine Lancashire urged to think about giving the gift sight on this World Sight Day

NHS Blackburn with Darwen and NHS East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are supporting World Sight Day (Thursday, October 11) by asking people in Pennine Lancashire to consider signing up to the organ donors register.

Due to a shortage of eye donors NHS Blood and Transplant’s eye banks are currently below the level required to meet demand.

Almost anyone can donate their eyes for corneal transplants when they die, including people with some cancers. Corneas are the clear tissue on the front of the eye that help the eye to focus light. The sclera which is the white part of the eye, can also be donated to help people but the eye is never transplanted whole.

Dr David White, Clinical Lead for commissioning policies development for East Lancs and Blackburn with Darwen CCGs, said:

“Donating sight can enable people to see again. Transplants help restore the sight of our patients and it’s only possible thanks to the generosity of donors.

“During the last year, 31people had corneal transplants in Pennine Lancashire with corneas donated through NHS Blood and Transplant but we need more people in Pennine Lancashire to help with the national shortage of donors by agreeing to donate their eyes.”

Eyes donated in one area can be used for corneal transplants in other parts of the country.

People may lose their sight as the result of damage caused by eye disease or injury, or defects from birth.

You can donate your corneas up to 24 hours after you die, and unlike with organ donation, you don’t have to die in a hospital intensive care unit or A&E department to become a donor. Donation can take place after death in hospital, in hospices or in funeral home.

Helen Gillan, General Manager for Tissue and Eye Services at NHS Blood and Transplant, said:

“Donating sight means there can be light after darkness, but too many people are spending World Sight Day unable to see their families due to a national shortage of donors.

“Our eye banks are currently well below the level we’d like to see and we understand that people often view the eyes with more emotion and see them more symbolic than other parts of the body.

“People in Pennine Lancashire can help us by saying yes to cornea donation and we thank NHS East Lancashire and NHS Blackburn with Darwen CCG for their support.

“Almost anyone can donate their sight. People tell us the decision to donate brings a sense of pride and comfort.”

“Please support sight donation and help patients see what they can currently only imagine.”

• It only takes two minutes to join the NHS Organ Donor Register. Join today.

• Make sure you have told those closest to you that you have signed up so that they know to honour your decision.

• Say Yes donate to cornea donation; join the NHS Organ Donor Register.