DoH and US-based Eversight partner to establish the country’s first Eye and Tissue Bank

Reiterating the Emirate’s position as a leading destination for healthcare across all fronts, the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi (DoH), the regulator of the healthcare sector in the Emirate, and US-based Eversight, one of the leading non-profit eye banks in the world, partnered to establish the UAE’s first Eye and Tissue Bank. The Agreement will witness the creation, development and operation of a comprehensive and seamless eye transplantation framework in the UAE.

In attendance of HE Abdulla bin Mohamed Al Hamed, Chairman of DoH and Carrie Wolverton - Global Development Director at Eversight, the partnership was reflected through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which was signed by HE Dr. Jamal Mohammed Al Kaabi, Undersecretary of DoH and Erik Hellier, Director of Global Development in Eversight.

Through this strategic collaboration, DoH and Eversight will set the building blocks across three phases which include programme design, implementation and management. In its early stages, both entities will focus on implementing the necessary arrangements for the Eye and Tissue Bank - Abu Dhabi to serve as an importer for corneas and other eye-related tissues into the region. In addition to integrating the eye and tissue banking programme into the UAE’s National Programme for Organ Donation and Transplantation. For its part, Eversight will develop a comprehensive medical framework to standardise and operate procedures on all clinical functions within the Eye and Tissue Bank - Abu Dhabi in accordance with international best practices in Abu Dhabi.

HE Dr. Jamal Mohammed Al Kaabi, Undersecretary of the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi (DoH), said: “Under the directives of our wise leadership, Abu Dhabi continues to partner with leading international bodies to elevate its national healthcare operations across all fronts. We are proud to have partnered with Eversight today to establish yet another impactful programme that contributes to maintaining and enhancing lives in the UAE and beyond. Through this partnership, we aim to further improve healthcare outcomes and facilitate quick and seamless operations for all patients in need of eye-tissue transplantation in the UAE.”

Al Kaabi, added: “We encourage all community members to register their consent to donate organs and tissues post-mortem. While we work limitlessly to reiterate Abu Dhabi’s position as a leading destination for healthcare, we empower our community to partake in the journey to excellence through noble and sentimental actions as this.”

Erik Hellier, Director of Global Development in Eversight, said: “Our vision for the future is to expand our reach, connect more effectively with all communities and provide a life full of sight to anyone in need. Our vision is a world without blindness. This partnership is an enormous step towards that vision. This is the highlight of my 17 years in eye banking and we are very excited for the future.”

Eversight’s mission began in 1947, when the fourth eye bank in the United States (previously known as the Illinois Eye-Bank) was established. Over time as the critical demand for corneal tissue to treat preventable blindness surged, non-profit eye banks were set up in every state. Thirty-eight years later, the Michigan Eye-Bank (established in 1957) and the Illinois Eye-Bank formed a partnership that earned a reputation for clinical excellence which attracted affiliations with other regional eye banks. Fast forward to 2015, the network then became known as Eversight. A unified enterprise bringing the highest quality services to both their patients and surgeons to continue the growth of their impact around the globe.

Held in Abu Dhabi last week, the International Conference for Initiatives on Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation witnessed the launch of the Abu Dhabi community campaign in support of The National Programme for Organ Donation and Transplantation, "Hayat" by H.E. Abdulla bin Mohamed Al Hamed Chairman of the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi. The campaign aims to encourage society members to register as organ and tissue donors, contributing to improving the quality of life of patients suffering from organ failure, H.E. being the first to register as an organ and tissue donor in the campaign.

The International Conference for Initiatives on Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation, held in Abu Dhabi from November 7 to 9, 2022 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), aimed to shed light on global experiences and best practices related to the scientific, charitable, societal and legal aspects of organ donation, in addition to raising awareness around healthy living and prevention of disease in the community.

The National Programme for Donation and Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissue, ‘Hayat’ is a national system to enhance efforts for the donation and transplantation of human organs and tissues in accordance with the highest international standards and practices in the United Arab Emirates and the region. 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 the quality of life. The programme is a synergy of collaborative efforts of many federal and local authorities, including the Ministry of Health and Prevention – UAE, the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi, the Dubai Health Authority, the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA), the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City and several governmental and private health facilities across the country.

The conference was organised by the National Organ Donation and Transplant Committee, represented by the Ministry of Health and Prevention – UAE, the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi, the Dubai Health Authority, health facilities specialising in organ transplantation, and several other local and federal stakeholders. The conference activities were launched with the support of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi as the destination partner, Abu Dhabi Media Company as a media partner and Etihad Airways as the official carrier of the conference, in addition to several healthcare facilities in the Emirate, including Pure Health, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Khalifa Medical City, Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City, Burjeel Medical City, Abu Dhabi Health Services Company "Seha" and Seha Kidney Care and Pure Lab. In addition to Community Support Partners include Emirates Red Crescent, the Authority of Social Contribution ‘Ma’an’, Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre, Abu Dhabi Police, Zayed Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation and Abu Dhabi Sports Council.

The programme invites community members to learn about the importance of organ donation and register on the official website to become a donor post-mortem through the website: giftoflifead.ae.

Source: Department of Health Abu Dhabi

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