A chance of a brighter life, thanks to a cornea donation | News

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A chance of a brighter life, thanks to a cornea donation

Selina, Patricia and Dr Helen Buglass in front of the Trust HQ

A retired pharmacy assistant from Wakefield has received the gift of sight thanks to a cornea transplant which took place at The Mid Yorkshire Teaching NHS Trust.

67-year-old Patricia Bullock assumed her deteriorating sight was due to age, but it wasn’t until her daughter insisted, she get her eyesight checked, that she discovered she was suffering from Fuchs Dystrophy.

This inherited condition damages the cornea and resulted in Patricia completely losing her vision. She underwent the corneal transplant at the Trust in October 2022, which she says was “life changing.”

Patricia said: “After struggling for so long, I was completely depressed. I was dependent on my daughter to help me do everything, I felt like my life wasn’t my own, I had lost the ability to live as free and independently as I once had. I had lost my vision, something we all take for granted, until we can't see, that's where the struggles begin.

“The transplant operation gave me my life back, I can do all the things I enjoyed before my health took a turn, such as being able to drive and looking after my appearance. I feel so happy within myself now my eyesight has improved.

“Over my fourteen months of recovery, I had phenomenal support whilst being treated at Mid Yorkshire, from my surgeon, the hospital staff, friends, family, and most importantly my daughter. It has been a long recovery, but it has been worth every second.

“I did struggle to come to terms with the fact someone lost their life, for me to get the quality of mine back. I am so grateful to my donor for the gift of my sight, for that, I will take her with me to see everything for the rest of my journey, she deserves to continue to see this world and she will forever be an inspiration to me, reminding me the importance of being selfless, being a donor, and sharing my decision, I am now passionate towards encouraging others to do the same.”

Over the last couple of years, the number of corneal donors has fallen below the levels we saw before the pandemic and haven’t yet recovered. Each week 70 cornea donors are needed to match the national demand for improving sight in patients with many kinds of eye conditions. Currently patients are having to wait some time for this life changing operation.

The Mid Yorkshire Teaching NHS Trust are encouraging patients and staff to register their decision to donate their corneas and other tissues and share their decision with their loved ones.

Dr Helen Buglass, Clinical Lead for Organ Donation at the Trust, said: “We are extremely sensitive to the connection people have with eyes, as they are often viewed with more emotion than other parts of the body. However, the gift of sight is life changing and is one we would really like people to consider.

“You can donate your corneas up to 24 hours after you die. Donation can take place in hospitals and in hospices.

“We need families to support their loved one’s decision and agree to donate when approached, if they know what their relatives wanted. By sharing this information, this will allow us to restore someone’s sight and give them an opportunity to transform a life.”

Mid Yorkshire Teaching NHS Trust has been identified as one of the hospitals to focus on tissue donation in the country. Surgeons at the Trust have performed 8 corneal transplants in 2022 - 2023 with 2,832 corneal transplants being performed across England during this period. Many more patients are waiting on a corneal transplant.

To register your decision today or to find our more, visit: Join the NHS Organ Donor Register.

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