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Saving Sight Awards SBL for Excellence in Eye Donation

March 30, 2015 3:50 p.m.

  • Pictured left to right receiving the award are: SBL Vice President of Patient Continuum and Chief Nursing Officer Mary Lou Wild; Teri Gardner, RN; Kristie Sabo, RN; Enna Torrepalma, RN; Nicole Winnett

Saving Sight, one of the largest eye banks in the country, recognized the staff at Sarah Bush Lincoln for its outstanding support of eye donation on Monday.

Saving Sight awarded the Excellence in Eye Donation Award to its partner hospitals that achieved an eye donation consent rate that exceeded 45 percent and had at least 10 patients donate eye tissue in 2014. Less than 15 percent of Saving Sight’s referral partners received this award. Sarah Bush Lincoln received it for achieving a consent rate of 62 percent last year, and 15 patients there made the heroic decision to donate their eyes to help others suffering from severe vision loss.

Wendy White-Mitter, Saving Sight partner relations coordinator, presented the Excellence in Eye Donation Award to staff members in SBL Critical Care Unit and Emergency Department. Eli Heicher, RN, Critical Care Unit Director said, “It’s a great honor to receive this award, and a testament to our staff members who are committed to helping others by having a difficult conversation with family members of those who are facing end-of-life.”

Americans will receive approximately 48,000 cornea transplant surgeries this year to preserve or restore their vision. With healthy vision, these people will be able to resume joyful, independent lives. Thanks to the generosity of eye donors, their families and supportive hospital staff like those at Sarah Bush Lincoln, Saving Sight was able to provide donated eye tissue for 2,985 corneal transplants in 2014, an average of 8 people per day.

The award also coincides with National Eye Donor Month, a time to honor eye donors and celebrate cornea transplant recipients. In March, Saving Sight encourages people to:

• Learn more about eye donation on the Saving Sight website.

• Pledge to be an eye, organ, and tissue donor on the donor registry online or at the local drivers’ services office. • Speak with family and friends about the choice to donate.

• Celebrate National Eye Donor Month on social media using these NEDM images.

• Host a donor registration drive in the community. Contact Saving Sight for materials and instructions.

According to the Eye Bank Association of America, “more than 95 percent of all corneal transplant operations successfully restore the corneal recipient’s vision.” So eye donors have an incredible impact on the lives of recipients, often relieving pain and reviving independence. In fact, a recent study coordinated by the EBAA found that corneal transplants in the U.S., by enabling people to resume employment and lead healthy lives, offer a total lifetime net benefit of nearly $6 billion. “The EBAA’s study does a great job of illustrating that eye donors not only give the gift of sight to recipients but they also enhance prosperity in our communities,” said Tony Bavuso, chief executive officer of Saving Sight.

To speak with a Saving Sight representative about the Excellence in Eye Donation Award at Sarah Bush Lincoln, National Eye Donor Month and/or cornea donation and transplantation, please contact Wendy White-Mitter, partner relations coordinator for Saving Sight, at 217-679-2987 or [email protected].

About Saving Sight Saving Sight is a 501(c)3 organization with a mission to change lives by saving sight. Founded in Columbia, Mo. in 1960, the organization introduced eye donation and the gift of sight to Missouri. Today, Saving Sight operates vision health programs that serve more than 55,000 people each year. Saving Sight offices are located in Missouri, central Illinois and Kansas. For more information, please visit


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