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Cornea Donations During the Coronavirus Crisis

Aug 26, 2020 07:00AM ● By Med Magazine

While the world continues to adjust to the new normal caused by the onset of coronavirus, Dakota Lions Sight & Health has also had to adapt.

A big part of Dakota Lions Sight & Health’s mission is to provide donor education to various partners. This involves outreach to both medical professionals and to the general public to inform and encourage eye and tissue donations.

Before the COVID-19 crisis hit our country, Dakota Lions Sight & Health sent representatives to hospitals, schools, driver education classes and to other venues in South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, and Northern Nebraska, to provide education on the importance and need for organ, eye and tissue donation. These in-person meetings have a direct impact on the availability of corneas and other tissues for transplantation.

When many facilities were shut down or operations were modified to limit building access to essential workers, these face-to-face meetings became impossible. But the need for corneas for transplantation did not stop. Dakota Lions Sight & Health quickly pivoted to adjust to the new restrictions in a variety of ways. 

As most schools shifted to online learning, Dakota Lions Sight & Health followed by creating pre-recorded presentations and also by offering web-based, live presentations on a wide variety of digital platforms, such as Zoom, Skype, Go-To-Meeting and others. 

This digital approach was also utilized for driver education classes throughout our region. By continuing these outreach efforts, DLSH helped ensure that cornea donations would be available now and, just as importantly, well into the future.

Another important audience for Dakota Lions Sight & Health is nurses. They are vital in identifying potential donors and also in understanding the cornea donation process. Due to hospital security and privacy protocols, Dakota Lions Sight & Health primarily used the secure virtual meeting platform called Webex to host virtual presentations. Participating nurses also qualified for required continuing education credits by attending these virtual trainings.

“We are committed to using whatever means necessary to ensure this important information about cornea donation and an understanding of our mission reach the right people,” says

Chad Hohwieler, Dakota Lions Sight & Health’s Community Outreach Coordinator.

Today, as pandemic protocols continue to change, Dakota Lions Sight & Health’s community outreach has shifted to a combination of in-person presentations and online presentations based on the organization’s preference. 

It’s this commitment to their mission that has allowed Dakota Lions Sight & Health to realize a new record of restoring sight to nearly 1100 individuals through cornea transplantation during their fiscal year of July 2019 to June 2020. 

Learn more  or request a presentation for your group at