Laser eye surgery may lead to organ shortage

Posted at: 03/29/2013 6:48 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Something a lot of people have done to help improve their vision while they're alive may make their eyeballs useless for organ donations when they're dead.

It’s Lasik surgery, and while it improves vision it also scars and stretches the cornea of the eyeballs so they can’t be used after someone is dead. That’s discouraging news to would-be organ donors.

Our reporter Stuart Dyson had procedure done back in Nov.1999 - live on the 10 p.m. news. He said it worked like a charm, but says kind of bummed out that his corneas won’t do anybody any good after he kicks the bucket.

Dr. Kenneth Himmel is an eye surgeon specializing in cornea transplants. He says there is no shortage right now, but it’s conceivable that one might develop over many years – unless something changes.

“The good news is that our cornea transplant techniques continue to evolve,” Himmel said in an exam room interview at Eye Associates. “Many of the tissues we’ve been having to reject previously because they’re not suitable for cornea transplantation we are able now to use, and probably will be able to use more, even more, in the future.”

So would-be organ donors who had Lasik don’t have to feel useless.

“We may be able to use your tissue, if you’re good enough to donate it,” Himmel said. “Hopefully that won’t be anytime soon.”