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Donated corneal tissue leads to fungal infections

26/09/2017By Matthew Woodley
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It has been revealed five patients who received cornea transplants from tissue donations supplied by the NSW Eye Bank subsequently contracted a fungal infection.

The recipients of the pre-cut corneal tissue underwent surgery in April and May, and developed Candida Parapsilosis infections following the procedures. Health authorities are yet to determine how the tissue was infected, but the Eye Bank has stopped producing pre-cut tissue as precaution.



"This is the first incident of infection from corneal tissue supplied by the NSW Eye Bank in its almost 50 years of providing corneas to surgeons."
Gerard Sutton, Lions NSW Eye Bank medical director

While it’s believed the first two cases are related, Lions NSW Eye Bank medical director Professor Gerard Sutton told Fairfax it’s not known if there is a link between the other three.

“This is the first incident of infection from corneal tissue supplied by the NSW Eye Bank in its almost 50 years of providing corneas to surgeons,” Sutton said.

“The [Organ and Tissue Donation Service] is working closely with the Therapeutic Goods Administration and the NSW Ministry of Health to investigate, and is liaising with interstate eye banks to determine the [as yet] unknown cause which has only affected pre-cut corneal tissue.

“While this investigation is under way, the production of pre-cut tissue has been ceased; however the supply of other corneal tissue is continuing as usual for transplantation.”

Four patients have subsequently received replacement transplants with no further problems, and all five are expected to make a full recovery. However, the infections have slowed their visual recovery.

A total of 99 patients were transplanted with pre-cut tissue during April and May, and no further infections have been reported to date. The only other recent report of a similar infection in Australia occurred in Victoria last year.

GLAUKOS
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