Impacts of COVID-19 pandemic and public policies on corneal transplantations in Brazil

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Purpose: The study aimed to evaluate the impact of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and public policies on corneal donations and transplantations in Brazil and get reliable indicators to support effective measures for improving the system of obtaining, processing, distributing, using, and controlling donated ocular tissues. Methods: A questionnaire was applied by the Brazilian office of the Pan-American Association of Eye Banks (APABO) to Brazilian Eye Banks to collect data from January to August 2020 and generate reliable indicators about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on corneal donations and transplantations in Brazil. Results: Data from 37 Eye Banks showed that 76.1% of the 3,060 donations and 74.5% of the 3,167 transplants occurred in the pre-pandemic period. From the 6,052 processed corneas, 71.8% were provided for therapeutic purposes: 72.9% were transplanted, 26.1% ended up being discarded (45% of which qualified for optical transplantation), and 1% remained in stock in glycerin. Of the 1,706 corneas that could not be eligible for therapeutic use, 47.9% were excluded due to tissue conditions, 43.6% for serological reasons, 6.7% due to contraindications found in clinical history after retrieval, and 1.8% for other factors. Conclusions: The negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on corneal donations and transplantations in Brazil resulted from the recommendation of the Health Ministry to suspend the retrieval of ocular tissues from donors in cardiopulmonary arrest for almost six months. The indicators reveal the compelling requirement for updating both the classification and cornea provision criteria by the Eye Banks and improving the Brazilian corneal distribution system.




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Arquivos Brasileiros de Oftalmologia, v. 85, n. 3, p. 277-285, 2022.

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