Introduction Within the UK, there is a transplant shortage of approximately 500 corneas each year. Corneal transplant is a sight-saving procedure and corneal donation can be empowering for end-of-life patients who are otherwise unable to donate their organs. We set out to improve corneal donation rates within our organisation.
Methods Prior to our intervention there was no formal guidance on the process of corneal donation or any records on organisation donation rates. We arranged specialist local training in collaboration with NHS Blood and Transplant to train and educate hospice staff on the process of corneal donation. Following this, guidelines were implemented to facilitate conversations with patients, including a guide for both staff and patients on the process of corneal donation. Staff were also afforded the opportunity to observe the corneal retrieval process to build confidence during discussions with patients and their relatives.
Results Between November 2018 and June 2019, corneal donation was discussed with 75% of patients admitted to the inpatient unit, resulting in 30 successful corneal donations. In addition, all staff members consulted, including doctors, nursing staff and clinical support workers felt more empowered to discuss corneal donation with patients. Consistent documentation using a traffic-light system, where patients for corneal donation (green), considering corneal donation (yellow), or not for corneal donation (red) helped promote discussion and awareness. Daily patient reports emailed to key project members helped ensure all staff were kept updated with patient wishes.
Conclusions These preliminary results suggest that our intervention has been successful, resulting in 30 donations, which has the potential to restore the sight of over 300 people. Data will continue to be collected and future aims include expanding the project into hospice outpatient settings. To facilitate this, corneal donation champions have been nominated to raise the awareness of corneal donation across the organisation.