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Eye Donor Awareness Month at Port Jeff Hospitals

Free eye education will be provided by local Lions Club this month.

Head to and hospitals this month for free eye education, courtesy of the Lions Eye Bank for Long Island. Both of these Port Jefferson hospitals have paired with the bank to offer its free education program to increase awareness about the need for donations.

“Eye Donor Awareness Month offers a great opportunity for individuals to learn how they can make a difference in the life of someone who may need a sight-restoring corneal transplant,” said Kenneth Manger, program director of the Lions Eye Bank for Long Island.

Bruce D’Abramo, a member of the Lions Club and Port Jefferson Village Trustee, will be at both hospitals to hand out information and discuss donations. He said that the Lions have been involved in vision projects since Helen Keller spoke at a Lions convention in 1925.

“She challenged the Lions to be knights of the blind,” D’Abramo said.

Last year, more than 40,000 corneal transplants were performed in the United States. The Long Island bank, which was created in 1986, has distributed 11,583 corneas, or 450 to 500 transplants a year, Manger said.

Donations can consist of corneas or the whole eye, with portions of the latter used for emergency surgeries while others go to research or for training.

“I have delivered corneas for transplant as a volunteer transporter,” said D’Abramo, who has worked with the eye bank since 1999. “I have met many donor families who have consented to organ and tissue donation at one of the most difficult times in their lives, after losing a child, husband, or parent. I've also met appreciative transplant recipients, who have had a second chance at sight and at life.”

He said that both Mather and St. Charles have been involved with the Lions Eye Bank by providing corneas for transplants from donor families.

While corneal transplants rely on donations from other people, donations also contribute to cures for such other eye problems as glacoma, complications from diabetes or retinal disease.

“It's rewarding to have a small part in making such a dramatic change in someone's life,” D’Abramo said.

Information tables will be set up at and at , both from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Additional reporting on this article was done by from Syosset Patch.

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