Go to top of page

Working with the eye and tissue sector

The eye and tissue sector comprises eye and tissue banks across Australia. These banks collect tissue from deceased and living donors, process and store these tissues and then distribute them to clinicians for transplantation and other surgical uses.

Australian eye and tissue banksA map of Australia showing the location of eye and tissue banks and a table below showing the tissues retrieved by each bank

All eye banks and deceased donor tissue banks are supported by DonateLife Network staff who play an important role in seeking family consent for deceased organ and tissue donation in hospital.

Throughout 2018–19 we worked with the eye and tissue sector, largely through the Eye and Tissue Advisory Committee, to address both strategic and operational issues.

A number of issues were raised in the Analysis of the Australian tissue sector report prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers and publicly released in June 2017. To address the issues raised, the Commonwealth Department of Health led the development of a national policy framework for the Australian eye and tissue sector. The department worked in close partnership with the states and territories and the OTA. The draft framework was presented at the February 2019 Australian Health Ministers Advisory Council meeting and all states and territories provided their in-principle support. The framework will be presented for endorsement by the COAG Health Council in the second half of 2019. Implementation of the framework will inform the future direction for the eye and tissue sector.

In 2018–19 we worked with the eye and tissue sector, together with the Australia New Zealand Organ Donation Registry, to enhance national eye and tissue donation and transplantation reporting. Since January 2019 an expanded eye and tissue dataset has been reported on a monthly basis rather than quarterly. In the first half of 2019, we also began to further enhance this reporting framework to continually expand and improve activity data to support planning within the sector.

We worked across the eye and tissue and organ donation sectors to develop a draft Donor Risk Assessment Interview tool, a medical-social questionnaire to be used uniformly across all organ, eye and tissue donations. This questionnaire, known as AUS DRAI, will replace the current medical-social donor history questionnaire that is completed with a potential donor’s next of kin to identify any risk factors that may impact on the success of eye, tissue and/or organ donation and transplantation. It is anticipated that the AUS DRAI – supported by guidance documents and user training – will be implemented in May 2020.

We also supported Australian eye banks to validate the Electronic Donor Record Eye Module which was implemented in 2017–18 to provide a paper-free, end-to-end eye banking system.