Winston-Salem, NC-Based Miracles In Sight Plays Critical Role in Brand New Surgical Technique Set to Transform Corneal Transplantation

Thursday, June 1, 2017

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C., June 1, 2017 -- Miracles In Sight (MIS), one of the largest eye banks in the world headquartered in Winston-Salem, is proud to play a key role in one of the first ever successful PDEK (Pre-Descemet Endothelial Keratoplasty) surgeries done in the United States. PDEK is a new procedure that Dr. Alan Carlson and Dr. Ashiyana Nariani performed at Duke Eye Center last week. Miracles In Sight provided the donated ocular tissue for the surgery, and prepared the graft for transplantation.

After two years of research, innovation, and collaboration between Miracles In Sight Eye Bank, Duke and the founder of PDEK, Dr. Amar Agarwal, corneal transplantation has transitioned from the wetlab to the eye bank to the operating room. May 25, 2017, marked a major milestone, with successful PDEK graft transplantation at the Duke Eye Center by Dr. Carlson and Dr. Nariani, with graft preparation performed by the Miracles In Sight Eye Bank.

"The day we transplanted a PDEK graft successfully at the Duke Eye Center was the epitome of my time here at Duke," Dr. Nariani says. "It was the day when we embarked on the transition from older forms of corneal transplantation to one that has the potential to utilize young donor cells while maintaining thin grafts, thereby enhancing optical clarity."

"I believe that Miracles In Sight, by offering this exquisitely prepared donor PDEK tissue, is bringing in an era of a new and elevated standard for eye banking in the U.S.," Dr. Carlson says.

The PDEK procedure involves injecting an air bubble into a donated cornea. The air bubble isolates the cornea's endothelium, Descemet's membrane, and the newly described Dua's Layer, creating a graft that is roughly 35 micrometers in thickness.

"Two procedures – DSAEK and DMEK –  are currently the most widely performed types of endothelial keratoplasty procedures," explains Isaac Perry, Director of Clinical Services at Miracles In Sight.  "The current feedback from surgeons is that PDEK combines some of the advantages of each type of procedure, and may offer better outcomes for their patients."

Perry adds, "We've worked tirelessly on perfecting this preparation technique for a year and a half. To see such a positive outcome and success is truly rewarding."

Each year, MIS sponsors a cornea fellow at Duke. Dr. Nariani was last year's fellow, and culminated her fellowship with the PDEK transplant.

"I am proud of the work done by Duke Eye Center and the Miracles In Sight Eye Bank," Dr. Nariani says. "Special thanks to Dr. Agarwal for helping us make the transition here in the United States."

Currently, MIS provides corneas for more than 3,600 transplants each year.

MIS has been providing eye banking services since 1951. In its more than 65-year history, the organization has developed well-known processes that ensure quality corneal tissue is delivered in a timely way to surgeons.

As part of its mission, MIS provides extensive training and support opportunities for physicians and their staff, including scholarships for qualified surgeons to attend advanced industry training seminars, onsite training of physicians' office staff, and financial support for academic training at University hospitals in North and South Carolina.

Miracles In Sight also hopes the successful surgery serves as a call to action for more people to become organ, eye and tissue donors.   Our mission is to support the restoration, preservation and enhancement of sight through transplant, research, education and innovation.

For more information about Miracles In Sight, the donation process and how you can become a donor, please visit www.miraclesinsight.org