In this special interview, GAEBA says farewell to its Executive Committee Member, Dr Graeme Pollock, who after three decades of dedicated service to the eye banking community, is taking a well-deserved leave.
What was the global eye bank landscape like back in 2009 when the idea to build GEABA was floated amongst the global community?
Very much an Atlantic divide. Little information was exchanged between global regions – and I saw for example North America trying to address issues that had already been addressed in Europe and vice versa. There seemed to be so much to learn from one another – if only the networks to do it existed. Of course, in the USA there was big growth of eye banking due to the refinement of referral pathways, and thus a growing interest in the export of tissue. Interest in what was going on internationally was beginning to grow.
What are you most proud of being a part of during your GAEBA time?
It would have to be the Barcelona Principles. We acted on a request from attendees at our 2015 World Eye Banking forum in San Diego – at the time there was international concern regarding the black market and fraudulent and criminal activity in corneal tissue. The attendees felt it important to provide some global consensus on the bioethical issues involved in our profession – and through the process of consultation, networks were built – it bought us all closer together. The concept of for-profits operating was not even on our radar at the time the Principles were written – but with circumstances changing they probably have been referred to mostly for their support of the universally accepted ethical principles of no commercialism of human donation and transplantation. Circumstances and practice in some quarters may have changed but what is ethically acceptable hasn’t.
What makes GAEBA important?
The diversity of experience and culture. Willingness to openly share. There is always something to learn from one another.
What are your hopes and dreams for GAEBA in the future?
I hope it grows more at the grass-roots and gets people talking more to one another. My concept for GAEBA was always about creating pathways to help people find out about stuff – to learn from one another. I’d like to see more sharing of resources, more educational/learning opportunities. It isn’t intended to be a development agency – but can assist in that by providing quality information and it being an avenue of bring people together.
Any final comments to the GAEBA community?
I think people may devalue the knowledge that they already hold – a lot of it unique. Everyone has a contribution to make even if they don’t believe they have anything of value – they do. So feel free to raise your voice, provide new thoughts and ideas, contribute to the knowledge pool. It is all valuable. It’s a cliché but – you get out of it what you put in.