IMO has very technically advanced operating theatres, where operations are performed that range from myopia procedures to the most complicated eye treatments. Over 8,000 patients are operated on every year.
Corneal transplantation seems very new, but the procedure was first performed more than a century ago. The operation takes between 40 minutes and an hour and a half. It is performed under local anaesthesia, and the patient can go home after the operation.
One of the leading authorities in the field, Dr José Luis Güell, works at IMO. He has spent 20 years performing operations and corneal transplants. "The cornea is like a protective dome for the eye. It is transparent and enables images to enter the neurological tissue of the eye, the retina," the doctor explains.
Why is transplantation important? How can transplantation help patients with corneal problems?
Patients can fully recover their vision. There are numerous types of corneal lesion that can severely affect patients. The ability to replace tissue with donor tissue enables many patients to recover perfect vision.
Who can be a donor?
Almost anybody can be a donor, because the cornea is an avascular structure, and even people who would not normally be suitable as donors of other organs can be cornea donors. Apart from a few exceptions, the vast majority of people can be donors.
Are there problems of rejection?
Yes, of course, rejection is a potential problem, but the word seems to suggest that there is nothing we can do, which is not the case, we should change the word. Rejection is an inflammation episode, and, in 90% of cases, it can be stopped with drugs.
How many corneal transplants can be performed in a centre like IMO in a week?
Usually, about 4 or 6 corneal transplants a week by Dr Güell and Dr Gris, the two cornea specialists at IMO. This obviously depends on the availability of tissue and its quality. Some weeks, there are more operations and other weeks less.
Catalonia performs 35-40% of all corneal transplants in Spain, with figures that are above the European average, and, if we compare populations, the figures are, for example, on a par with the number of operations performed in the U.S.
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