Recipient’s life turns around

In 1976, Carmen Perez started to experience eye problems and learned she had Fuchs’ dystrophy, a slowly progressing cornea disease. Over the next few decades, Carmen’s vision began to deteriorate. Eventually, she knew it was time for a transplant.

In 2008, Dr. Christopher Rapuano performed a transplant in Carmen’s left eye. In 2013, she also had a transplant in her right eye. For the first time in many years, Carmen could see out of both eyes, and she said the difference was “immediate and incredible.”

Carmen urges others not to be afraid of the surgery. “Nerves are normal,” she says. “The surgery will turn your life around. I can now take care of my grandchildren and watch them grow up. It is truly a miracle.”

Suggestions for writing

For recipients: Writing about yourself

  • Include first names only.
  • Do not reveal your address, city, phone number or the name of your physician.
  • Acknowledge the donor family’s loss and thank them for their gift.
  • Share information about your family, occupation, hobbies and all of the wonderful things you are able to do with restored sight.
  • Avoid sharing too much personal, religious and medical information.

For donor families: Writing about your loved one

  • Include first names only.
  • Do not reveal your address, city, phone number.
  • Share information about your loved one’s family, occupation, hobbies, interests and why your loved one was so special.
  • Avoid sharing too much personal, religious and medical information.

Mailing your card or letter

  • Place your card or letter in an unsealed envelope.
  • On a separate piece of paper, please include your contact information such as name, address, email and phone number so LEBDV can reach out with questions. Donor families should include the name of your loved one and the date of the donation. Recipients should include the date of their surgery/surgeon.
  • Place the letter and the paper in another envelope and seal it.

Mail to:
Donor Family/Recipient Services
Lions Eye Bank of Delaware Valley
401 N. 3rd Street
Suite 305
Philadelphia, PA 19123

How transplantation works

The Gift of Sight begins with the selfless decision of a cornea donor and their family who, in their time of grief, choose to leave a legacy of sight for others.

Lions Eye Bank of Delaware Valley is responsible for recovering, processing and distributing cornea tissue for sight-restoring transplantation. Our eye bank technicians travel to hospitals and other facilities to recover donor tissue. Once recovered, tissue is carefully screened, evaluated and processed in our laboratory to ensure the highest quality and safest tissue for transplant. When a surgeon has a patient in need of a cornea transplant, they contact Lions Eye Bank of Delaware Valley to coordinate tissue for their surgery.

Who needs a cornea transplant?

People need a transplant for many reasons. Disease or injury can range from newborns to senior citizens and come from all walks of life. People suffer from blunt injuries, burns or infections of the eye that damage one or both corneas. Certain diseases may cause the cornea to become clouded and distorted in shape. When a cornea is clouded, no light can pass through and blindness sets in.

Sadeer B. Hannush, MD, is Attending Surgeon on the Cornea Service at Wills Eye Hospital, Department of Ophthalmology at Sidney Kimmel Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He earned his Doctor of Medicine degree from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, and completed his Ophthalmology Residency at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. He then went on to fellowship training in Corneal and Refractive Surgery at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.

Dr. Hannush’s areas of interest are full and partial thickness cornea transplantation (endothelial and deep anterior lamellar keratoplasty), permanent keratoprosthesis surgery (artificial cornea), complex cataract and anterior segment reconstructive procedures, and laser vision correction.

Dr. Hannush has been named in ‘The Best Doctors in Philadelphia’ as well as ‘The Best Doctors in The United States’. In 1998 he received the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s Honor Award for distinguished service in education. At the 2008 American Academy of Ophthalmology Meeting, he received the Senior Achievement Award. The Wills Eye Hospital resident class of 2000 presented him with the Excellence in Teaching Award.

Together with Wills Eye Hospital Ophthalmologist-in-Chief, Dr. Julia Haller, Executive Director, Mr. Joe Bilson, and fellow surgeon, Dr. Brad Feldman, Dr. Hannush originated W.I.R.E. (Wills International Resident Experience), during which the Wills Eye Hospital senior residents spend time abroad experiencing the delivery of ophthalmic care in a third world setting.

Dr. Hannush is the Medical Director of Lions Eye Bank of Delaware Valley (LEBDV) and a Medical Advisory Board Member of the Eye Bank Association of America. He first joined LEBDV in 1988 as a corneal surgeon following completion of his fellowship at Emory. He was later asked to join LEBDV’s Medical Advisory Board, and in 2007 was appointed Co-Medical Director with Dr. Peter Laibson. He has since been responsible for the institution of procedures and methods for LEBDV to prepare tissue for endothelial keratoplasty (partial-thickness corneal transplantation) used by corneal surgeons throughout the Delaware Valley. This required the acquisition of special equipment (microkeratomes), surgical microscopes and a laminar flow hood. As endothelial keratoplasty techniques evolved from Descemet-stripping automated endothelial keratoplasty (DSAEK) to Descemet membrane endothelial keratoplasty (DMEK), Dr. Hannush arranged for LEBDV’s technicians to receive extra training to prepare and provide appropriate tissue for this procedure.

Dr. Hannush has performed and taught corneal transplantation in Italy, Spain, Egypt and Kenya, where he started a transplant program at Tenwek Mission Hospital in Western Kenya. This was made possible by generous donations of corneal tissue on many occasions by LEBDV, which serves patients in need of the gift of sight around the world.

Growth & relocation

After becoming established, the Eye Bank later moved to the Wills Eye Hospital on Spring Garden Street in Philadelphia and remained there from 1964 until 1980 when Wills Eye Hospital moved to a new facility at 900 Walnut Street. The Eye Bank was housed there from 1980 until 1994. When it became evident the Eye Bank’s growth required additional space, together with the region’s organ procurement organization (OPO), it relocated to leased space in Philadelphia’s Rodin Building. In 2005, Lions Eye Bank of Delaware Valley again relocated with the regional OPO, Gift of Life Donor Program, and moved to a new facility at 401 N. 3rd Street in Philadelphia.

Your Eye Bank today

Lions Eye Bank of Delaware Valley grew from one or two donors per year to recovering approximately 1,500 eye donations and facilitating over 1,000 cornea transplants annually. From a largely volunteer staff in the early days, the Eye Bank now has a professional staff of 18, an annual budget of over 4 million dollars and a Board of Trustees representing Delaware, southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Growth & relocation After becoming established, the Eye Bank later moved to the Wills Eye Hospital on Spring Garden Street in Philadelphia and remained there from 1964 until 1980 when Wills Eye Hospital moved to a new facility at 900 Walnut Street. The Eye Bank was housed there from 1980 until 1994. When it became evident the Eye Bank’s growth required additional space, together with the region’s organ procurement organization (OPO), it relocated to leased space in Philadelphia’s Rodin Building. In 2005, Lions Eye Bank of Delaware Valley again relocated with the regional OPO, Gift of Life Donor Program, and moved to a new facility at 401 N. 3rd Street in Philadelphia. Your Eye Bank today Lions Eye Bank of Delaware Valley grew from one or two donors per year to recovering approximately 1,500 eye donations, and facilitating over 1,000 corneal transplants annually. From a largely volunteer staff in the early days, the Eye Bank now has a professional staff of 18, an annual budget of over 4 million dollars and a Board of Trustees representing Delaware, southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

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25th Annual
Gift of Sight Charity Golf Classic

Monday, August 12th, 2019