Our Historical Perspective
The Early Years - The Mid Sight Eye Bank for Sight Restoration, Inc. (Originally the Memphis Eye Bank for Sight Restoration) was organized in 1945 and Chartered in September, 1946. It was sponsored by the Robert George Circle of the Business and Professional Women of the First Congregational Church. According to available data, Mid South is the second oldest surviving organized eye bank in the nation; second only the Eye Bank for Sight Restoration in New York City (February, 1944) and followed closely by the New England Eye & Tissue Transplant Bank - TBI of Boston (October, 1946). Other eye banks of that age have been either absorbed into other organizations or have discontinued operations.
During the 1960’s, data on available corneas was transmitted by the Ham Radio Operators Network who, in 1969, were commended by the governors of five states for their service.
Our Horizons Broaden – In the late 1960's the Board decided to broaden its community outreach to include all Memphis hospitals for its donation and transplantation activities. The Board also decided to implement a service fee, established in September, 1969 at $25.00.
Donor cards were first placed in the hospital admission packets in 1971.
The first full-time eye bank technician was employed in 1972; the position being funded in equal shares by Methodist and Baptist Hospitals and by the University of Tennessee. In 1973, the eye bank employed its first weekend technician with funding from a grant the Regional Medical Center (then and now known as the MED).
The Eye Bank Association of America – In 1969, the eye bank raised and paid the required $150 to become a member of the Eye Bank Association of America. In 1980 the Executive Director, Ms. Kathy Maraist, was elected to a three-year term on the Governing Board of EBAA, the first opportunity for the eye bank to have a voice in setting national eye banking policy.
In 1881, the national movement to achieve standardization and, ultimately certification of eye banks resulted in Mid South Eye Bank receiving its first certification with recertification every three years.
We March on - Mr. Tom Jamerson was employed as Executive Director in 1983. He led the eye bank into a period of prosperity and took it from a small, locally focused organization to a modern community service organization it is today.
In 1991, Mid South produced its first Policies and Procedures to comply with initial EBAA standards. The P & P are considered a living document; always under review and revision. The goal is to set continuing higher quality standards reflected in the tissue we provide, to protect recipients and eye bank technicians with higher standards for sterile and safety techniques and to continue compliance with the increasingly complex governing standards from the EBAA, the FDA, Occupational Health and Safety Administration and others.
Mr. Lee Williams was employed as Executive Director in January 1996 and continued the progress toward modernization, generally employing computers and computerized tissue tracking. Mr. Williams was a member of the national eye bank Board of Directors for seven years, serving as at-large delegate and then as Treasurer for four years. The eye bank also started a broader program of community outreach and participation in activities to garner community support and to enhance donation.
The Mid South Eye Bank continues to provide quality tissue and excellent service to the physicians and patients in the Memphis region, nationally and around the world in this most challenging endeavor.