ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Eversight, a leading global nonprofit eye bank dedicated to restoring sight and preventing blindness through the healing power of donation, transplantation and research, and the Department of Health - Abu Dhabi (DoH), the regulator of the health care sector in the Emirate, are partnering to establish the first eye and tissue bank in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The partnership was formalized at the recent International Conference for Initiatives on Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation in Abu Dhabi, according to an announcement about the partnership.

Erik Hellier

“The establishment of the UAE’s first eye and tissue bank will provide a critical resource to the approximately 1 million people in the region who suffer from corneal blindness, including more than 12,000 people in the UAE,” said Erik Hellier, director of global development at Eversight. “We are excited to partner with the DoH on this project that is directly aligned with our goals of creating and restoring vision health around the world, and leveraging our expertise, cultural competence and philanthropic support to help the UAE develop its own eye banking infrastructure.”

Eversight will handle the development and implementation of comprehensive medical standards, quality assurance protocols and standard operating procedures in compliance with all laws and regulations of the UAE and in accordance with eye banking best practices. The DoH will be responsible for obtaining all necessary approvals for the establishment and operation of the eye and tissue bank, serving as an importer for corneas and other eye-related tissues into the region and working to integrate the eye/tissue banking program with the UAE National Program for Organ Donation.

This initiative will also strengthen mutual collaboration in activities related to knowledge sharing, human capability building and clinical research.

“Under the directives of our wise leadership, Abu Dhabi continues to partner with leading international bodies to elevate its national health care operations across all fronts,” said Dr. Jamal Mohammed Al Kaabi, undersecretary of the Department of Health.

“We are proud to partner with Eversight to establish yet another impactful program that contributes to maintaining and enhancing lives in the UAE and beyond. Through this partnership, we aim to further improve health care outcomes and facilitate quick and seamless operations for all patients in need of eye-tissue transplantation in the UAE.”

Globally, an estimated 2.2 billion people are impacted by blindness and visual impairment. Approximately 1 billion of these individuals are coping with blindness or visual impairment that can be characterized as preventable or not sufficiently addressed.

This includes 12 million people who suffer from corneal blindness, making it the fourth leading cause of blindness globally. Eversight is working to address this global burden and help make vision a reality for more people worldwide.

Eversight is a nonprofit organization and The Eversight network is responsible for recovering, evaluating and providing human eye tissue for transplantation; supporting research into the causes and cures of blinding eye conditions; promoting donation awareness through public and professional education; and providing humanitarian aid to people around the world in need of corneal transplantation.

Operating in Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio and South Korea, Eversight works in collaboration with surgeons, researchers, academic medical centers and eye banks across the U.S. and abroad.

The National Programme for Organ Donation and Transplantation, “Hayat” seeks to enhance coordination efforts for the donation and transplantation of human organs and tissues in the United Arab Emirates and the region in line with international best practices. Working in coordination with various strategic partners locally and globally to save lives, it continues to improve the health and safety of the community and improve quality of life for those in need of tissue or organs.

The program is a synergy effort from several federal and local authorities, including the Ministry of Health and Prevention, the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi, the Dubai Health Authority, the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company “SEHA”, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City and other government and private health facilities across the country.

More information about the importance of organ donation are posted here.