US eye bank donates 10 corneas to Vietnam

By Le Nga   June 4, 2019 | 01:20 am PT
US eye bank donates 10 corneas to Vietnam
American doctor Edward Kondrot (R) oversees an eye examination for a patient waiting for cornea transplant at Hue Central Hospital. Photo by VnExpress/P.H.
Vietnam's national organ transplant center has received 10 corneas donated by a U.S. eye bank on Sunday.

They were harvested from 10 Americans who died in late May and donated via Dr. Edward Kondrot of the Hawaii Ophthalmological Society and Californina-based Surgical Eye Expeditions International to help blind patients in Vietnam.

They were handed over at the Da Nang International Airport to Vietnam National Coordinating Center for Human Organ Transplantation, and half each were immediately sent to Hue and Hanoi.

Nguyen Huu Hoang, director of the eye bank at The Central Eye Hospital in Hanoi which received five of the corneas, said, "This is a precious gift for the eye bank and patients who are waiting for corneal transplants."

Kondrot and his wife, a Vietnamese American, often travel to poor countries and perform free operation programs on eye patients, especially children. Their trip to Vietnam is arranged by the Hue Central Hospital in the central town, which received the other five corneas.

Pham Nhu Vinh Tuyen, deputy head of the ophthalmology department at the Hue hospital, said Kondrot will help with free corneal transplants on five patients and free cataract surgeries on 50 others this week.

The cornea is the clear tissue covering the front of the eye. If it becomes cloudy, one's vision is dramatically reduced or lost.

Corneas have to be harvested from donors within 48 hours of death. The collection takes just minutes and does not compromise the shape of the eyes or affect the funeral. One donor can help two blind persons see.

In 2018 Vietnam received nearly 200 corneas that have been transplanted on waiting patients.

This year the Hanoi's eye bank has received 65 whereas the number of people waiting for corneal transplants at the Central Eye Hospital is usually 800 to 1,000.

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