September, 2016 | CEO of Lions VisionGift Announces Retirement Date - Portland, OR

Barbara Crow, Chief Executive Officer of Lions VisionGift (LVG), has announced her retirement; her final day will be December 31, 2016.  Ms. Crow has served as Executive Director/CEO of LVG, formerly Lions Eye Bank of Oregon, since 1998.  She came to the organization from Oregon Health & Sciences University where she served as Executive Director of the Oregon Eye Bank at OHSU from 1987, and is credited, along with Dr. Joseph Robertson and Lion George DeHart, with merging the two eye banks in 2000. 

Ms. Crow’s tenure saw the eye bank through its growth years as a program of the Oregon Lions Sight & Hearing Foundation, to its present day status as a world renown eye bank dedicated to its mission of honoring its donors and their gifts of sight in order to eradicate preventable blindness through transplantation, vital eye research, education and the provision of medical products used to treat specific conditions in the eye.  As she puts it, “I came to a program that had 7 employees and a 24 member Board of dedicated Lions, many of whom stayed with the eye bank to provide guidance and support through the years.  FDA regulations soon pushed the eye bank into a new world of increasing tasks to complete the same job.  Today LVG has a staff of 60 and provides over 1500 corneas a year for transplant in Oregon and across the world.  We’ve added serum eye drops to ease dry eye conditions, a patented “halo” group of sterile tissues used in glaucoma surgeries, and vital eye research projects in conjunction with local cornea surgeons and with researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD.”

procurement, training and advanced research

According to Ms. Crow, “This has been a ‘Dream’ job for me; I’ve been assisted by a superlative staff and a group of steady Lions who believed in the eye bank.  Together we have built an organization that is the envy of eye banks all across the world.  Our Medical Advisory Board is filled with surgeons renowned in the world of ophthalmology; our Board and community has a staunch group of Lions and non-Lions that have stood by us, acted as tissue couriers for us and cheered for every milestone we crossed.  We have ventured into cell biology research in a partnership with Johns Hopkins University, and soon we will open Lions VisionGift East in Boston, MA.  This latest venture will facilitate the delivery of tissue to our many surgeons in the eastern part of the US.  I feel this is the right time for me to step aside and watch as LVG soars to new heights!  I will forever be grateful to many Lions, some of whom are no longer with us but stay with me only in spirit.  No one could have had a better career than to come to work each day and know that we make a difference in the lives of those who have suffered with unnecessary blindness.  My time with LVG will be extended as a consultant during 2017, to ensure a smooth transition in leadership of this fine organization.”

September, 2016 | First Lions VisionGift Prepared DMEK Transplanted in New York - New York, NY

Lions VisionGift is really proud of the relationships we develop with talented surgeons from across the nation – and around the world – when they visit us to observe techniques and protocols of the newest corneal surgeries; others have spent time in fellowships with some of our partners in care, like the Devers Eye Clinic, and gone on to their own practices elsewhere.  In both cases many have maintained their affinity for Lions VisionGift prepared tissue.  This trend took another step forward when our newest Medical Director, Dr. Chris Sáles, who now practices in NY, performed two DMEK surgeries in early September 2016 utilizing Lions VisionGift prepared DMEK tissue.

Dr. Sáles reported that the procedures went perfectly and he was pleased with the blue vital dye staining LVG utilizes in our pre-cuts because it allows the surgeon to see the tissue better during the surgery, but it also highlights any cell damage that can occur during tissue recovery and processing – noting that both tissues had “nothing to see but pristine endothelial cells.

procurement, training and advanced research

DMEK procedures represent an increasing proportion of all corneal transplants, and the utilization of an eye bank prepared DMEK graft, on the other side of the country, is an important step in the continued growth of the therapy and of Lions VisionGift’ s reach.  In addition to New York, Lions VisionGift, is also a licensed tissue bank in Oregon, California, Florida, and Massachusetts, as well as in the nation of Canada.

March, 2016 | Processing Technician, Phil Dye, Reaches 1,000 DMEK Preparations - Portland, OR

As we all know, there are two versions of endothelial keratoplasty therapy; DSAEK which has been performed for more than 10 years and the newer DMEK, which is only a couple of years old.  Of note, each of these therapies was developed, in large part, through extensive exploration and refinement by Lions VisionGift laboratory staff – with DMEK largely being pioneered in our lab by our technician Phil Dye.  That Phil just this month passed the 1,000 DMEK graft preparation threshold is a truly remarkable achievement.  Coupled with the many hundreds of peels Phil performed during validation and clinical trials for the procedure, Phil’s epic contribution to DMEK science means he has very likely performed more of these peels than any other person on the planet.

As noted by Joshua Galloway, Processing Manager for Lions VisionGift, "Phil Dye has recently processed his 1000th DMEK graft for transplant and we are aware of only 1 other person the world, Dr. Mark Gorovoy, who can make the same claim. This is a remarkable achievement in itself, but to prepare that many with as few failures as Phil has had is even more astounding. In his over 1000 attempts Phil has been 98.5% successful in preparing transplantable grafts. To hit such a mark with that level of success on such an incredibly difficult procedure is a testament to the skills and dedication to our mission that Phil possesses."

procurement, training and advanced research

Not to get hung up on language – more specifically, on the validity of hyperbolic statements about the “best” or “greatest” – but Lions VisionGift just may have some of the most impressive eye banking professionals in the game.  It’s true that every company will claim to have the greatest employees, but how often does that seem like a marketing point?  How often do companies take the time to explain why their employees are the best?  To that end, we hope the information you've just read helps qualify Phil for that elite category of industry leader.


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