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In North Carolina, a team of visionaries saw the possibilities of this medical procedure and organized to lobby the North Carolina legislature for the establishment of an eye bank. Lead by L. Byerly Holt, M.D. , the group persuaded the legislature to pass General Statute 90-216, making possible in October 1951 the founding of The North Carolina Eye & Human Tissue Bank (to become The North Carolina Eye Bank in 1996). The new organization would become the fifth eye bank established in the United States.
Community partnerships played a key role in establishing the eye bank's headquarters. Winston-Salem was chosen as the central location because it served as the headquarters of Piedmont Airlines, which served the larger cities of North Carolina and hubs all around the United States at no cost to the eye bank.
In March 1981, the EBAA began to accredit all eye bank facilities to ensure that medical standards were being met across the eye banking system. After a thorough and detailed inspection from the EBAA Medical Standards Committee, the North Carolina Eye Bank was officially certified in October 1982, and has been re-certified on every subsequent inspection.
In July 1982, the Winston-Salem Host Lions Club donated a new slit-lamp microscope and specular microscope to the eye bank allowing it to process and store tissue in its laboratory until needed for use. Currently the eye bank evaluates and processes eye tissue 24 hours a day, seven days a week by trained technicians.
Through grants from the Kate B. Reynolds Health Care Trust, the eye bank established four satellite recovery offices in 1984. The offices were located in Durham, Greenville, Charlotte and Asheville. The eye bank's territory has since been redrawn, operating in Winston-Salem, Durham, Fayetteville and Greenville.
Since its first formal meeting in 1951 The North Carolina Eye Bank has kept pace with the steady progress of eye banking. It maintains a keen sensitivity to changes in ophthalmology and is very active in the EBAA. The eye bank maintains close working relationships with eye banks all across the nation and in countries with an established an eye banking system. Representatives of eye banks from Asia, the Middle East and the former Soviet Union have visited The North Carolina Eye Bank for assistance in training of their technical staff, and in establishing their own labs and eye bank.
2008 was a year of significant growth for NCEB, due to the passing of 'The Heart Prevails' legislation in October 2007. If you have a heart on your driver's license, it represents a legally binding, first person consent by all people that want to be organ and eye donors.