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Australians at forefront of eye banking achievement

20/06/2018By Matthew Woodley
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An Australian contingent of eye bankers has spearheaded the creation of the world’s first global agreement on the ethical use of human eye tissue.

The agreement, known as the Barcelona Principles, outlines the ethical use of donated human tissue for ocular transplantation, research, and future technologies. It was developed by a collaboration of eye banking organisations led by the Melbourne-based Global Alliance of Eye Bank Associations (GAEBA) and launched at an event in Barcelona last week.


"The new global agreement will build eye banking services and improve equitable access to the millions awaiting corneal surgery around the world.”
Lisa Buckland, Lions Eye Bank.

Dr Graeme Pollock, who recently received a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his pioneering work with corneal research and eye banking, played a critical role in drafting the agreement. He told Insight that with millions of potential recipients waiting for a transplant, it was important to improve access without compromising ethical principles to the donor, recipient and the extended community.

“The document is a suite of principles which incorporates elements designed to preserve human autonomy, justice, human dignity, and makes us human if you like. It covers consent, donation and equitable allocation of ocular tissue for transplantation and research,” he said.

“The leadership that we’ve taken in coordinating 102 individuals representing 89 nations in putting together the Barcelona Principles is very pleasing indeed. In addition Australia continues to display in practice an ethical environment that we hope is seen as an example for the globe and an incentive for all.”

Lions Eye Bank WA manager Ms Lisa Buckland represented the Eye Bank Association of Australia and New Zealand (EBAANZ) – whose regional framework formed the basis of the principles – at the launch, and she said she felt honoured to take part.

“The new global agreement will build eye banking services and improve equitable access to the millions awaiting corneal surgery around the world,” Buckland said.

“The Barcelona Principles also provide comment and helpful recommendations on areas of ethical ambiguity, such as profitisation and supply chains to for-profits, the movement of tissue around the world and partnering with others all over the world.”

The Barcelona Principles

• 
GLAUKOS
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Respect the autonomy of the donor and their next-of-kin in the consent process.
•  Protect the integrity of the altruistic and voluntary donation and its utility as a public resource for the shared benefit of all.
•  Support sight restoration and ocular health for recipients
•  Promote fair, equitable and transparent allocation mechanisms
•  Uphold the integrity of the custodian’s profession in all jurisdictions
•  Develop high-quality services that promote ethical Cell, Tissue and Organ (CTO) management, traceability, and utility
•  Develop local/national self-sufficient services
•  Recognise and address the potential ethical, legal and clinical implications of cross-border activities
•  Ensure ethical practice and governance of research (non-therapeutic) requiring cells, tissue and/or organs.
George & Matilda Eyecare
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