Signing up as a donor – An individual can declare their decision to donate on their driver’s license at the DMV or on the Virginia Donor Registry at If you are 13 to 18 years old and a Virginia resident, you can register with parental permission.


Identifying a potential donor – At the time of death, the hospital personnel will notify the recovery organization (organ procurement organization or ODEF). Old Dominion Eye Foundation’s donor center coordinators will review the potential donor’s medical history to determine if they are medically suitable to be a donor.


Determining donation status – ODEF will search Virginia’s donor registry to see if the potential donor registered their wish to be a donor through the DMV or If so, that serves as the donor’s legal consent. If the patient was not a registered donor, then the organization will seek consent from the next of kin.


Medical/social evaluation – The medical evaluation of the patient will continue, including a donor center coordinator asking the family of the patient a series of medical and social history questions. These questions are similar to the questions asked of blood donors.


Tissue recovery – Corneal tissue or whole eyes are recovered by our specially trained staff. Recovery procedures are performed sterilely and precisely, just as with any surgical procedure. Recovery usually does not interfere with open-casket funerals. All eye tissue is transported to our processing laboratory in Richmond.


Tissue evaluation – All donors are tested for infectious diseases and is carefully evaluated. Corneal tissue is evaluated by slit lamp microscopy and by specular microscopy. Using these assessments and the donor’s medical history, the tissue is rated and offered to the corneal surgeons for patients awaiting transplant.


Transplant – Tissue is then transported to the surgery center for transplant. The transplant procedure usually takes less than an hour and most recipients can go home that same day.

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