Miracles in Sight visits ILEB

ILEB was fortunate to have a visit from Dean Vavra, President and CEO, and Brenda Horn, Vice President of Business Development, of Miracles in Sight eye bank in North Carolina on Friday, October 6. 

Dean Vavra has 34 years of eye banking experience. He started out as a Certified Ophthalmic Technician (COT) leading to his eye banking career, and subsequently held almost every job in an eye bank: recovery technician, technical director, hospital development/marketing, chief operating officer and executive director.

Vavra has served on the Board of Directors for the Eye Bank Association of America (EBAA) and Vision Share. He has served as the vice president of the Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Institute Foundation in Colorado. Vavra was the Chair of the EBAA Technician Education Committee, a member of the EBAA Medical Advisory Board, Regulatory Affairs Committee and has served on many other EBAA committees. He was recognized in 2010 with eye banking’s highest distinction—the Leonard Heise Award.  This honor is bestowed annually by the EBAA “In grateful recognition of Distinguished Service Rendered to the Nation and The World in the Fight Against Blindness.” Vavra has a Master’s Degree from Colorado Christian University’s School of Business, and is a significant historian and contributor to the field of eye banking as well as educating those who are learning eye banking.

Brenda Horn began her career as a medical technologist at Charleston’s Medical University of South Carolina. In 1990, she joined the South Carolina Lions Eye Bank as the laboratory coordinator of the eye bank’s Charleston office, and eventually rose to the position of executive director. In 2003, the South Carolina Lions Eye Bank merged with South Carolina’s organ procurement organization, at which time she provided oversight of both the ocular and tissue services programs as the vice president of tissue services at LifePoint, Inc. In 2015, Horn returned to her love of eye banking by accepting a position as the Miracles in Sight vice president of business development after MIS acquired LifePoint’s South Carolina ocular services program. Brenda is currently pursuing her masters of science in project management from the Citadel Graduate School in Charleston, South Carolina.

Vavra and Brenda toured the eye bank facilities as well as The Iowa Lions Donor Memorial and Healing Garden at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. Dr. Mark Greiner and the research team, including Greg Schmidt, ILEB director of business development and research, Jessica Skeie and Ben Aldrich, ILEB research scientists also gave them a presentation of the forward-looking research being done in the state-of-the-art ILEB research lab.

Vavra was very gracious during his time at ILEB, and gave the eye bank staff a very informative lecture on the history, challenges, and future trends in eye banking. He has seen the industry overcome many challenges during his 34 years in the field, and assured us that while there are more challenges on the horizon, we will be able to continue to grow and thrive.

ILEB thanks Dean Vavra and Brenda Horn for their visit and sharing their insight and expertise into the ever-changing landscape of eye banking.