A small beginning

At a Lions Clubs International Convention held in Cedar Points, Ohio, Helen Keller urged Lions to become “Knights of the Blind.” In 1957, a small group of Lions from the tri-state area heeded the call and organized the Eye Foundation of Delaware Valley, now known as Lions Eye Bank of Delaware Valley. From a small beginning in the boiler room of the Adelphia Hotel in Philadelphia, the Eye Bank operated with a one-person staff consisting of an Executive Director. At its inception, it was difficult to secure enough income to meet payroll and often a handwritten “I Owe You” was given in place of a paycheck. The organization began slowly with only one or two eye donors the first year.

Creating Miracles Since 1957

During LEBDV’s 60-plus years, there have been numerous advances in medicine, technology and regulations. From the advent of cornea storage media to layer-specific cornea transplants, eye banking has evolved into one of the greatest success stories of modern medicine. We invite you to learn more about our history and milestones.

(Click timeline to view full size)


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.