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Center for Organ Recovery & Education (CORE), Eye Bank Association of America Highlight Multi-Million-Dollar Impact of Corneal Transplants

Washington, D.C.– (October 10, 2013) – Corneal transplants performed in the United States this year will result in nearly $6 billion in total net benefits over the lifetime of the recipients, according to a six-month study undertaken by the Eye Bank Association of America (EBAA). The Center for Organ Recovery & Education (CORE), a federally designated not-for-profit organ procurement organization (OPO) serving Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and parts of New York, has been an EBAA member since 1997 and will provide over 900 corneas for transplant this year, with an estimated lifetime value of $43,105,884.

The study compared the medical cost of transplant procedures to the direct and indirect lifetime costs of the alternative – living with blindness or severe vision impairment. With a corneal transplant, an individual avoids the direct expenditures that come with vision loss, such as higher routine medical costs and long-term care costs, and the indirect costs of potential years of lost productivity to both the patients and their family caregivers.

Eye disorders are the fifth costliest to the U.S. economy after heart disease, cancer, emotional disorders and pulmonary conditions.

“We honor our donors and donor families for providing the gift of sight to so many individuals who have lost their vision,” said Susan Stuart, president and CEO of CORE. “It is through our values of integrity and compassion that CORE is able to bridge the gap between donor families and corneal recipients.”

“More than 46,000 people receive the gift of sight each year thanks to cornea transplants and the generosity of organ, tissue and cornea donors. CORE was able to provide the gift of sight to 485 western Pennsylvania residents, and we had the pleasure of partnering with the Medical Eye Bank of West Virginia to give the gift of sight to 197 people in West Virginia,” said Susan Stuart, president and CEO of CORE. “At CORE, we are proud to have an onsite eye bank at our Pittsburgh headquarters that allows our medical team to work even more efficiently in evaluating and distributing corneas to meet the needs of cornea transplant surgeries, both locally and nationally.”

The Eye Bank Association of America commissioned this study to determine the economic impact of corneal transplants. Researchers used previous years’ transplant numbers and census data to estimate total corneal transplants for the full 2013 calendar year.

Since CORE’s founding in 1997, more than 13,000 men, women and children have received corneal transplants to restore vision and relieve pain from injury and disease to the eye. With a success rate greater than 95 percent, the one-hour procedure restores the patient’s sight and his or her quality of life. In fact, it is one of the most common and least invasive transplant procedures. The EBAA study proves the value of the procedure and the economic benefit to the patient, family and society.

Corneal transplants also translate to direct federal and state government savings. This study assumed full retirement at age 65, so the net indirect cost savings is small for these patients, but the per-capita lifetime net medical benefits of $67,500 for patients age 65 or greater receiving corneal transplants in 2013 will save Medicare, Medicaid and patients a combined $2.4 billion nationally, and $18,434,818 in the states served by CORE.

For a full copy of the report, please contact EBAA at info@restoresight.org.

About CORE
The Center for Organ Recovery & Education (CORE) is one of 58 federally designated not-for-profit organ procurement organizations (OPOs) in the United States. CORE works closely with donor families and designated health care professionals to coordinate the surgical recovery of organs, tissues and corneas for transplantation. CORE also facilitates the computerized matching of donated organs and placement of corneas. With headquarters in Pittsburgh and an office in Charleston, West Virginia, CORE oversees a region that encompasses 155 hospitals and almost six million people throughout western Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Chemung County, NY. For more information, visit www.core.org or call 1-800-DONORS-7.

About EBAA
The Eye Bank Association of America (EBAA), established in 1961, is the oldest transplant association in the nation and champions the restoration of sight through corneal transplantation. Over 80 member eye banks operate in the United States, Canada and Asia. These eye banks made possible more than 70,000 sight-restoring corneal transplants in 2012 and the opportunity to perform more transplants is significant. Aside from those suffering from infections or communicable diseases, virtually everyone is a universal donor. The function of corneal tissue is not dependent on blood type, age, strength of eyesight or the color of the eye. To learn more, visit www.restoresight.org

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