Cornea donations in Singapore reached a record high of 236 last year, amid growing public awareness of the need for donors, said the Singapore Eye Bank (SEB) on 17 April.

The largest number in SEBs 26-year history broke the previous record of 222 donations set in 2015, however, it still fell short of the number of transplants performed a year as there is a "growing list of patients" who are waiting for a corneal graft operation to restore their sight, according to a statement from SEB.

The organisation attributed the record number of donations to greater public awareness and Singaporeans recognising that they are able "to play a role in restoring the sights of others".

Philanthropic actions of Singaporeans play a huge role

"There is a surge in the number of Singaporeans who recognise that it is a privilege to be able to restore and improve the lives of those who are in need of corneas. The desire to help transcends economic and social divides, making a difference in a stranger's life," it said.

Professor Tan, SEB's medical director said, "I am heartened to see an upward trend of local cornea donors in Singapore. This could not have been achieved without the help of my team at SEB and of course, the entire nation coming together in making something meaningful happen."

He also said it was "extremely rewarding" to be able to restore vision in patients to make a difference in the lives of others, and hopes that "the number of donations will continue to increase in the coming years."

Founded in 1991, under the Singapore National Eye Centre, SEB provides human corneal tissue to patients in need of a transplant through its eye donation programmes at hospitals such as the Singapore General Hospital, Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Changi General Hospital and the National University Hospital.

Singapore's corneal transplant centres, one of world's best

The eye bank also participates in multiple national multi-organ donation programmes such as its highly successful Hospital Eye Donation Program. It has also started initiatives to raise public awareness amongst Singaporeans to reduce the stigma of organ donations.

Therefore it is no surprise that Singapore has been gradually recognised as one of the world's leading corneal transplant centres, as its local clinical results have surpassed many international transplant programmes, SEB said.

The country has also been ranked third in Asia in a recent study for having the highest cornea tissue procurement per capita after Sri Lanka and India, it said.

The SEB hopes to continue to increase awareness on cornea donation and aims to break the record of cornea donations again in 2017 to meet the increasing demands of patients waiting for corneal drafts. MIMS

Read more:
How can the shortage of organs for transplants be addressed?
How aware are you of your patients’ religious concerns over organ donations?
Tough call: Should surgeons tell transplant patients their donor was an addict?