A Brief History of the Iowa Lions Eye Bank

Dr Alson Braley
Dr. Jay Krachmer
Dr William Mathers

In 1954, Dr. Alson E. Braley, Chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Iowa, saw the need for an eye bank in the Midwest and approached the Iowa Lions at the State Convention in Fort Dodge. They accepted the challenge, and the Iowa Lions Eye Bank was established at the University of Iowa Medical Center in 1955.

Dr. Braley was the eye bank's medical director until his retirement in 1975. Under his successor, Dr. Jay Krachmer, the program was expanded and the Iowa Lions Cornea Center, which includes the Iowa Lions Eye Bank, was built in 1977.

In July of 1992, Dr. Krachmer left the University of Iowa to become the Chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Minnesota. Dr. William D. Mathers became the eye bank's third medical director. In July of 1995, Dr. John E. Sutphin, MD, was named co-medical director.

Dr John Sutphin
Dr Michael Wagoner
Dr Ayad Farjo
Dr Kenneth Goins

In February of 1996, the eye bank moved with the Department of Ophthalmology to new facilities in the Pomerantz Family Pavilion.

Dr. Mathers left the department in October of 1998 to go to Casey Eye Institute in Portland, Oregon. Dr. Michael D. Wagoner joined the Eye Bank Team in July of 1999 and was named co-medical director with Dr. Sutphin in August of 1999. Dr. Wagoner left the University of Iowa in the Summer of 2002 to become Medical Director of the King Khaled Eye Specialist Hospital (KKESH) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and returned as the Associate Medical Director in 2007. In 2002, Dr. Sutphin became the Medical Director. Dr. Ayad Farjo was the Associate Medical Director from the summer of 2002 until his departure for Madison, Wisconsin in June of 2003. Dr. Kenneth Goins became the Associate Medical Director in August 2003.

Growth and Expansion of the eye bank necessitated its move in December, 2001, to 2346 Mormon Trek Blvd, Suite 1500 in Iowa City. Further expansion saw the opening of the first satellite office in Ames, Iowa in May of 2003.

In December of 2006 Dr. Kenneth Goins became Medical Director when Dr. Sutphin left to become the head of Ophthalmology at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Kansas. Dr. Sutphin remains an emeritus professor of ophthalmology at the University of Iowa. Dr. Michael D. Wagoner has returned to the Iowa Lions Eye Bank as Assistant Medical Director.

In April 2006, ILEB becomes the second eye bank to prepare DSAEK tissue and purchases an Intralase Laser. That November ILEB trained Saving Sight to prepare DSAEK tissue.

In 2004, Dr. Cindy Reed become Executive Director of the Iowa Lions Eye Bank. She is responsible for providing leadership for all functions of the eye bank, including strategic planning and fiscal oversight. Dr. Reed is currently the Chair of Vision Share, a nonprofit consortium of 18 U.S. eye banks, and a key member of the core physician/eye-banker team collaborating to improve donation and transplantation through cornea metabolic function research. She is most proud of the talented staff at the Iowa Lions Eye Bank, and also proud of the Iowa Lions Donor Memorial and Healing Garden, a tribute to the more than 28,000 eye, organ and tissue donors in Iowa since 1955. Cindy and her husband Steve live in Solon, have 5 adult children and are expecting their first grandchild in the fall of 2015

In 2007, ILEB prepared its first LAK grafts.

In 2008, ILEB takes over space next door - expanding to 6500 sq ft. The Iowa Lions Eye Bank (ILEB) celebrated their newly expanded and remodeled space at 2346 Mormon Trek Boulevard in Iowa City with an Open House on Friday, October 10th. Over 75 people attended the tailgate theme cookout and toured the eye bank facility. Invited guests included donor families and cornea recipients, friends and supporters of donation, local funeral directors, Iowa Lions Club members and officers, and U of I Healthcare faculty and staff. Cindy Reed, Executive Director of the Iowa Lions Eye Bank, greeted visitors and ILEB full-time staff was on hand to host tours of the 6500 square foot facility. A special guest of the Open House was Ruth Fisher who served as the eye bank’s first Executive Director from 1955 until 1983. In July of 1954, Ruth underwent one of the first cornea transplants performed by Dr. Alson Braley, then head of the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Iowa and founding Medical Director of the Iowa Lions Eye Bank in 1955.

In August 2009, we processed our first DMEK tissue with microkeratome.

In December 2012, ILEB prepared its first "peel" DMEK.

In 2013, ILEB moved into a new 14,000 sq ft. space at the University of Iowa Bioventures Center - All services housed in new space.