Seeing eye to eye: The impact of cornea donors

Posted on 24 June 2019

Two patients are on the mend thanks to innovative care and the generosity of cornea donors. You can help too.

A patient who lived with eye pain for almost a decade was treated in a single day, thanks to expert, innovative care at Mediclinic Durbanville Day Clinic.

“She was involved in a motor vehicle accident 20 years ago,” says ophthalmologist Dr Leonard Heydenrych. “She suffered corneal lacerations and damage to the eyelid. She had an emergency corneal graft, but it was unsuccessful. For about 10 years, she was able to see only large hand movements, and suffered significant discomfort due to an irregular epithelium.” In a first for Mediclinic Durbanville Day Clinic, Dr Heydenrych was able to repair her vision loss and alleviate her pain with a full-thickness corneal transplant.

Another patient, who had been suffering from poor eyesight for years, was treated by Mediclinic Pietermaritzburg ophthalmologist Dr Nicholas Davey. “She had keratoconus, which, if untreated, can lead to total vision loss,” he says. “A transplant was really her only option.”

Both patients received their transplants due to the generosity of organ donors. “South Africa suffers from a severe shortage of cornea donors. This means our patients must wait for months for a cornea from overseas, which drives up the cost tremendously.”

To register as an organ donor, contact the Organ Donor Foundation of South Africa (ODF) on 021 426 0198 or


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