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The Global Eye Bank Community welcomes a new law banning For-Profit Eye Banking in Kentucky, USA.

In late March, the Kentucky State Legislature passed, and the Governor subsequently signed, a new law prohibiting for-profit eye banking in their commonwealth State.
The Global Alliance of Eye Bank Associations (GAEBA) and its partner associations commend Kentucky for being at the forefront of protecting public trust in corneal donation and transplantation, and hopes other states and nations follow suit.
This law assures:
• The altruistic gift of sight from generous donors and their families is being protected from private gain
• Corneal surgeons can be certain that investors are not profiting from the tissue they are transplanting
• The wishes of donors and donor families are being appropriately honoured and respected
• Remaining proceeds from recovery, processing, and transplantation are channelled into research, education, and public awareness activities – not shareholder profits
• Grieving families can trust that donated tissue is not treated as a commodity.
Read the new law

The new law echoes the recommendations of The Barcelona Principles: An Agreement on the Use of Human Donated Tissue for Ocular Transplantation, Research, and Future Technologies,[1] the WHO Guiding Principles on Cell, Tissue and Organ Transplant,[2] and other leading frameworks in this field,[3-8] ensuring that the voluntary and unpaid ’gift’ of donation remains central to eye bank activities, eye care provision and treatments, and is without distraction and diversion of resources to investors.[9]
Non-profit eye banks, as custodians of the end-of-life donations, have a long-history around the world of being responsible for the provision of eye tissue to recipients in need of a transplant. In addition, they provide ocular tissue to train surgeons, and advance research and develop new technologies for the treatment of a range of ocular conditions, from corneal disorders to glaucoma and diabetes.
Professor Mark Mannis, GAEBA Representative says, non-profit eye banks “have introduced almost all of the advancements and innovations available today, and will continue to innovate and provide service.”[9] He outlined that non-profits have worked collaboratively to develop a range of services including ultrathin DS(A)EK, pre-stripped and pre-cut DMEK, various EK introducers, pre-loaded EK grafts, sterile corneal patch grafts, provision of autologous serum eye drops and a wide variety of tissue management software and solutions.
“Any surplus funds retained by non-profit eye banks are used to support research and surgical innovations for transplant procedures or to underwrite tissue provided at no cost to uninsured patients — not distributed to investors.” Says Professor Mannis.[9]

The GAEBA and members welcome the decision of the Kentucky Legislature.

References:

  1. The Global Alliance of Eye Bank Associations. The Barcelona Principles: An Agreement on the Use of Human Donated Tissue for Ocular Transplantation, Research, and Future Technologies. Cornea. 2018;37:1213-1217.
    Also available at: http://www.gaeba.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/GAEBA-2018-The-Barcelona-Principles-FINAL.pdf
  2. World Health Organization (WHA63.22). Guiding principles on human cell, tissue and organ transplantation. 2010. Available at: www.who.int/entity/transplantation/Guiding_PrinciplesTransplantation_WHA63.22en.pdf
  3. International Council of Ophthalmology. Position Statement: Donation, Processing, Allocation, Advocacy, and Legislation Supporting Human Corneal Tissue for Ocular Transplant. September 2017. http://www.icoph.org/downloads/ICO%20Position%20Statement%20on%20Corneal%20Tissue%20for%20Ocular%20Transplant.pdf
  4. Global Alliance of Eye Bank Associations. Position Statement: Commodification and Profitization of human materials and ocular services. August 2017. http://www.gaeba.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/GAEBA-Position-Statement-Commodification-and-profitization-of-human-materials-and-ocular-services.pdf
  5. Council for International Organizations of Medical Sciences in collaboration with the World Health Organization. 2016. International Ethical Guidelines for Health-related Research Involving Humans. https://cioms.ch/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/WEB-CIOMS-EthicalGuidelines.pdf
  6. United Nations. (1948). Universal Declaration of Human Rights. www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/
  7. World Medical Associations. (2013). Declaration of Helsinki – Ethical Principles for Medical Research Involving Human Subjects. https://www.wma.net/policies-post/wma-declaration-of-helsinki-ethical-principles-for-medical-research-involving-human-subjects/
  8. World Medical Associations. (2012). Statement on Organ and Tissue Donation. Revised October 2017. https://www.wma.net/policies-post/wma-statement-on-organ-and-tissue-donation/
  9. Mannis MJ. For-profit Eye Banking: Is this the right direction? UC Davis Eye Center. 30 Jan 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-cJmRX2Hwc