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Age Development of Cornea Donors of the Cornea Bank Erlangen

Blüthner K.,
Friedrich-Alexander-Universität, Augenklinik, Kornea Bank (Erlangen)

Purpose: Many health studies have shown an increase of life expectancy in Germany. In this context the question arose, if an increase of life expectancy in general has an influence on the age of our cornea donors (cd) in the northern bavarian region.
Method: We assessed the age of 707 cd from our university hospital and the neighboring municipal hospitals that were processed in the Kornea Bank Erlangen (KBE) between the years 1997 and the end of march in 2002. We used descriptive statistics for the mean value calculation of age. Additionally we calculated the relative amount of donors per year, which were not sufficient for corneal transplantation.
Results: The donor age ranged from 2 to 96 years. The calculation shows a yearly increase of the mean value of age 1997: 60 (± 20), 1998: 63 (± 21), 1999: 68 (± 18), 2000: 71 (± 16), 2001: 73 (± 14), 2002: 73 (± 16). In the years 1997 and 1998 45% and 42% of the cd were younger than 60 years, in 1999 this proportion decreased to 27% and in 2000/2002 to 22%. In the year 2001 we noted the lowest rate (17%) of cd with an age below 60 years. The rate of corneas, which did not meet the quality requirements for transplantation increased from 40% in 1997 to 59% in 2001. The average age of the cd was 58, 59, 62 and 61 years in Europe in the years 1997 to 2000 (pool of donors of 70 European Eye Banks from 22 countries; EEBA Directory, 2002).
Conclusions: Our results suggest an annual increase of the average age of our cornea donors since 1997. Thus, the demographic characteristics of our cornea pool reflect the general increase of life expectancy in Germany and result in a higher rate of not suitable corneas for transplantation. Compared to the average age of cornea donors in Europe our KBE processed donors that were 6 (1999) to 10 years (2000) older, on average.