Tygerberg Hospital performed its first lamellar keratoplasty, where only specific layers on the cornea are transplanted instead of all five.
The surgery was performed on Thursday May 10 by Dr Leonard Heydenrych, who received specialised training in lamellar corneal surgery at Moorfield’s Eye Hospital in London.
In a statement, Tygerbeg Hospital said corneal transplant surgeries had been performed there for several decades but until recently only full-thickness transplants had been done, where all five layers of the cornea, from outside to inside, were transplanted.
“Goodresultswere obtained with full-thickness transplants, also known as penetrating keratoplasty or PKP, although the recovery period typically lasted for several months before optimal vision was restored,” it said.
According to the hospital, newer techniques now exist which enable surgeons to selectively replace only the anterior 90% of a cornea (Deep Anterior Lamellar Keratoplasty or DALK) or only the posterior 10% (DescemetMembrane Endothelial Keratoplasty or DMEK).
“Instead of simultaneously replacing all five layers, one can now replace specific layers depending upon the underlying condition that caused the loss of corneal transparency,” it said.
The surgey was made possible by a partnership with a restaurant group, whose owner, Ian Halfon, stepped in when he learnt about the long waiting list for corneal transplants at state hospitals in the province.
He began raising funds for this project in his restaurants with which he has been funding both additional corneal transplants at Tygerberg Hospital as well as essential specialised equipment.