Corneal Transplant Case

Corneal transplants are very important and it is great to hear a story from individuals about when the transplant successfully improves lives.  The Aberdeen News, from Aberdeen, South Dakota, reported of such a case and the summary is below.

In 2012, Terry Mages, an organ donor, could not give her organs when she passed away because she had cancer.  However, her corneas could be used, since blood does not run through them.  Another Aberdeen resident, Bob Karst, received a corneal transplant from a 44 year old Nebraska man who was on life support.  Before receiving the transplant his vision has been deteriorating each year because of a disease and it had gotten to a point where he could barely tell light from dark.  However, since the transplant, he said his vision has been near normal.

hargraveeyecenter_diagramKarst was concerned that the disease would spread to the other eye but was lucky that it didn’t.  He had been on the waiting list for three months before he received the call that they had found a match for him.  Karst still worked normally and drove a car, relying heavily on his good eye before the transplant but afterward his range of vision was greatly increased.

Terry Magnes’ husband Randy is a former surgical technologist at Avera St. Luke’s Hospital in Aberdeen and he mentioned that there are many reasons a cornea can begin to fail.  The damage could result from an eye injury, a virus or bacteria can make the eye cloudy because of a clear shield developing over it, or a disease could mis-shape the cornea which restricts the vision or eliminates it entirely.  Although Karst found out who the donor was for his new cornea, typically the recipient of the donation doesn’t find out who it’s from for privacy protection.  There is also a small amount of transplants happening because, although people are organ donors, they don’t realize that the corneas can be donated.  It is something that St. Lukes’ Hospital hopes will be realized with the cornea transplant technology increase.