Filton Eye Bank opens after eye hospital move

Filton Eye Bank
Image caption Filton Eye Bank has moved from Bristol Eye Hospital to Filton Blood Centre

One of only two national eye donor banks in the UK has opened near Bristol.

Filton Eye Bank, which stores corneas people donate after their deaths, has moved into its own building after being based at Bristol Eye Hospital.

Bosses say the bank has a target of getting 10 donors a day, but fails to reach it most days due to a national shortage in cornea donors.

The other centre is based in Manchester.

The cornea is the clear, dome-shaped layer over the eye. It protects against infection and helps focus vision.

Filton deputy manager Toni Woodward said the two centres together had supplied more than 73,000 corneas for transplants since they had been running.

A third eye bank runs from Moorfield Eye Hospital in London but this only serves hospitals in the London area, such as St George's in Tooting.

'Afterlife blindness fear'

Mr Woodward added: "I was blind in my right eye, and after the transplant I was able to see again, it has improved my overall living."

He added there was a stigma attached to people wanting to donate eye parts.

"There's this feeling that people want to see into the afterlife, or other things like that.

"If people have those wishes then we must respect them but it's something that can give so much and make such a difference," added Mr Woodward.

Corneas can be stored for up to 28 days and consent to donate has to be given by the family within 24 hours of death.

Image caption The eye bank is failing to reach a daily target of 10 donors a day to help with eye operations

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