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NHS launches appeal for Havering residents to donate their eyesight

PUBLISHED: 17:00 11 October 2017

An NHS Blood and Transplant tissue transport box. Photo: NHS Blood and Transplant

An NHS Blood and Transplant tissue transport box. Photo: NHS Blood and Transplant

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The NHS is urgently appealing for Havering residents to sign up to donate their eyesight in the event of their death.

There is currently a national shortage of eye donors, and last month the NHS eye banks in Bristol and Manchester revealed there is currently a 21pc shortfall in donated eyes.

In the 2016/2017 financial year, only 10 families at Queen’s Hospital in Rom Valley Way agreed to donate their relatives’ eyes.

Many people can donate their eyes for cornea transplants when they die, including people with most types of cancer. Corneas are the clear tissue on the front of the eye that help the eye to focus light.

Hornchurch grandfather-of-seven Michael Snook, a retired marble and granite importer, suffered cornea damage during a cataract operation at a private hospital.

His vision was badly impaired until he had a cornea transplant at Queens earlier this year.

“My eyesight was like looking through a foggy glass window – I was unable to see properly.

“I couldn’t distinguish anything written in a newspaper. I couldn’t drive. When I received the transplant, I couldn’t believe how wonderful it was.

“You take it for granted that you can see – it’s not until you can’t see you realise how important it is.

“Everything looks brighter and clearer.”

Nationally, around 3,000 people’s eyes are donated each year.

Gail Mander, NHS Blood and Transplant nurse practitioner at Queen’s Hospital, said: “Donating sight means there can be light after darkness.

“But too many people are spending World Sight Day unable to see their families due to a national shortage of donors.

“Our eye banks are currently well below the level we’d like to see. People can help us by saying yes to cornea donation.

“Almost anyone can donate their sight. People tell us the decision to donate brings a sense of pride and comfort.

“Please, support sight donation and help patients see what they can currently only imagine.”

To register to donate your corneas, or if you are already a registered organ donor and want to check your preferences, visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk.

If you choose to join the NHS Organ Donor Register make sure you share this information with your relatives so they know to support your decision.

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