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Dakota Lions Sight & Health Takes the Pressure Off Surgeons with Advanced, Time-Saving Procedure

Mar 29, 2018 06:00AM ● By Alex Strauss

This winter, Dakota Lions Sight and Health in Sioux Falls became one of just a few elite eye banks in the country to begin offering pre-loaded corneal tissue for transplant surgery. In this new, advanced procedure, a DLSH lab technician removes the cornea cells from the donor tissue, prepares the Descemet Membrane Endothelial Keratoplasty (DMEK) graft, and loads it into a Straiko Modified Jones Tube for transfer to the clinic.

According to Fargo ophthalmologist Dr. Michael Greenwood of Vance Thompson Vision, who has been using the pre-loaded tissue from DLSH for the past few months, the technique can not only cut the transplant procedure time in half but can also cut out a lot of stress - both for him and for patients.

“The pre-loaded DMEK tissue lightens my stress load and allow me to be more efficient,” says Greenwood. “It not only saves me a step but it also means that I don’t have to worry about the possibility of making a mistake while I am preparing the tissue. That means that when a patient arrives for surgery, they know it is actually going to happen. It also means that another patient would potentially be able to have surgery the same day because I have more time.”

DLSH is one of just a small handful of eye banks around the country now offering DMEK pre-loads. The grafts are frequently used to treat a condition called Fuch’s Dystrophy, a hereditary degenerative disease that causes endothelial cells to die off, creating a buildup of fluid in the cornea and clouding the vision.

In the rare cases when something does go wrong in preparation, DLSH can make sure that the surgeon still has a pre-load when it’s needed so the patient never has to wait.“When we prepare the tissue, it saves the surgeon about 20 minutes in the OR,” says Marie Bowden, Clinical Manager at DLSH. “But, just as importantly, we now hold all the risk of doing something wrong to the tissue, such as tearing it when trying to pre-load it. We handle corneal tissue for a living. This is our area of expertise, so it just makes sense for us to complete the preparation here, in one fell swoop.”

“We don’t want surgeons to have to worry or patients to have to take another day off work or be anxious any longer than is necessary,” says Bowden. “So we go out of our way to make sure they have what they need, when they need it.”

“Honestly, they make it seem as though we are ordering something off of Amazon - it’s that smooth,” says Dr. Greenwood. “I see a patient in the clinic, I tell DLSH that we need tissue, it shows up when I need it. The eye bank has been a major player in improving the ease and success of corneal transplants.”

Web Exclusives: 

Find how to request tissue from DLSH for transplant or other use

Register for the “GIfts of Sight & Health Golf Tournament” on June 22nd

Read more about DLSH’s 25-year history in the region