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Boy in China regains sight after receiving pig's eye transplant

By Marcus Hondro     Mar 11, 2016 in Science
Corneal transplants are common operations to restore eyesight but they can only be done with a donor cornea. That is a problem in China, and elsewhere, where demand is high. But doctors there are solving the problem — by using pig's corneas.
Corneal transplant
A medical team at Zhongshan University in Guangdong, China successfully gave a 14-year-old boy sight back into his right eye by using a pig's cornea. It's not the first time it's been done and doctors are hopeful such operations will restore eyesight to many of those around the world with damaged corneas.
The cornea covers the outer layer of our eyes, protecting them and serving as a lens; damage or disease can cloud the cornea and lead to reduced eyesight or blindness.
Using a pig's cornea may now become the norm in China where so many go without because of the lack of eye banks with sufficient human corneas. Other countries may also turn to pig's corneas. In the U.S. there are some 40,000 cornea transplants yearly but they come from human corneas available in eye banks.
Eye transplant success
The South China Morning Post reports the youngster lost the sight in his right eye after suffering an injury from a firecracker earlier this year while at a New Year's celebration.
The paper said the teen, from Jiangxi province in southeast China, is doing well and doctors say his eyesight continues to improve. He's regained most of the sight in the damaged eye since the operation, which was performed in late February. The operation is only now being reported in Chinese media.
The bio-engineering company China Regenerative Medicine International (CRMI) is at the forefront of the research that is leading the way in using pig's corneas for human eye transplants.
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