Nanaimo leads B.C. in life-changing eye donations

By Spencer Sterritt
May 2, 2019 - 5:26pm

Up to eight people can be helped by the donation of one pair of eyes.Pixabay

NANAIMO — The gift of sight has been granted to hundreds thanks to the efforts of a Nanaimo Hospital unit clerk.

Judy Cook said she saw the harm being done by a shortage of enucleation technicians at the hospital as numerous eye donation requests were being turned away.

“It hurt me so badly to know that these gifts were going to waste,” she told NanaimoNewsNOW. “People were not available for the procedure. I applied to the Eye Bank of B.C....they accepted me and I learned how to do the procedure.”

She's performed more than 200 eye donation procedures since becoming a enucleation technician in 2013 and has helped Nanaimo become the leading eye donation centre of B.C.

Up to eight people can be helped with one pair of eyes.

“It's very rewarding to know I have a small little piece to play in helping people restore their sight,” she said.

She's since retired but is on-call with roughly three other technicians to perform the operation.

Cook said many of the donations come from the palliative care unit at NRGH, where she said staff are dedicated to promoting eye and organ donation.

“In many cases it's very therapeutic for the families to know that even in the loss of their loved ones, they're able to help other people.”

The Eye Bank of B.C. says there are over 400 people in the province in need of a cornea transplant and the number is expected to increase as the population ages.


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