Page 7 - LGS Today Fall-Winter 2022
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  Employee Spotlight: Tissue Distribution Team
A full-service eye bank is responsible for finding a home for all the eyes and cor- neas that it recovers from donors. Unlike donated tissues, which usually go to a central processor, or donated organs, which are allocated by UNOS (United Net- work for Organ Sharing), most U.S. eye banks send corneas directly to a surgery center for transplant.
Lions Gift of Sight has developed personal relationships with more than 30 sur- geons who regularly tap us for transplant tissue. And the people who know these surgeons best, monitor how they like corneal tissue prepared for their patients, and track what city, building, and room to ship or deliver corneal tissue to are Natalie and Panhia, our Tissue Distribution Team.
These two execute a carefully choreographed dance between the tissue that Lions Gift of Sight has recovered for transplant and the week’s surgery schedule. On a daily basis, Natalie Buckman (Distribution Manager and Surgeon Relations Liai- son) and Panhia Yang (Distribution Coordinator) review all the transplant-eligi- ble donated corneas and compare them to the calendar of surgeries that have been scheduled with us. Some surgeries only transplant the inner layer of the cornea, so the condition of the outer layer does not matter. Some surgeries only transplant the outer layer of the cornea, so the condition of the inner layer does not matter. This dynamic duo finds the best match for each surgery, shares the de-identified tissue details with the surgeon, and requests the needed processing from the Lions Gift of Sight eye bank scientists. After the corneas are processed, they arrange shipment to surgery centers.
It’s all about timing! A cornea is typically transplanted within 10-12 days of a donor’s death, and processing and shipping time must be factored in. Each
week may offer either a shortage or surplus of corneas, and you never know
what to expect. Fortunately, eye banks have always been good at working together to even out the tissue supply. When all U.S. surgical needs are met,
eye banks address the worldwide need for transplant corneas as well. One day we are importing and the next exporting. Again, it’s all about timing.
The best compliment you can pay the distribution team is to not realize the efforts that go into the outcome. Wheth- er you know it or not, Natalie and Panhia are working weekdays and weekends, nine to five and after hours, ful- filling scheduled surgeries and emergency needs. They do everything they can to honor donors and serve transplant
surgeons, and they are true eye bank heroes.
     Natalie, left, and Panhia, right.
Let’s not forget research!
Lions Gift of Sight Research Team members, Dr. Ching Yuan, Peter Be- dard, SiJie Chen, and Sung Lee, have their own dance to perform, involving all the tissue brought in for research and the many clients they serve.
Lions Gift of Sight is one of the top five eye banks in the world in the distribu- tion of research and medical education tissues. Research is essential in the fight against blindness and the efforts to restore vision.
Research tissue is often more time-sen- sitive than transplant tissue! So Ching, Peter, SiJie, and Sung work weekdays and weekends to honor the gifts of human eye tissue and to support the research studies that are advanced by these gifts.
In addition to distributing donor tissue to other scientists, the LGS research team partners with researchers studying macular degeneration and other debili- tating eye diseases. They also conduct in-house research on limbal stem cells, graft processing and storage, endothe- lial cell evaluation, COVID-19 — the list goes on! This team is what makes Lions Gift of Sight world-renowned.
 Sung Lee, Dr. Hou, Peter Bedard, and Dr. Yuan.

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