This study reports corneal graft survival, endothelial cell changes, and visual outcome in 20 patients who received some of the first corneas stored by organ culture in the Corneal Transplant Service Eye Bank in Bristol. Mean donor age was 48 years (SD 15, n = 20) and corneas were stored for an average of 21 days (SD 7, n = 20). Preoperative endothelial cell density was 2334 cells/mm2 (SD 235, n = 18) and this fell by 8% (SD 12) to 2158 cells/mm2 (SD 372) within the first 2 months following transplantation. In 13 patients, endothelial cell density thereafter declined exponentially with a half-life of 41 months (SD 17, n = 12; one patient excluded as an outlier). Corneas that suffered rejection episodes showed the highest rates of loss of endothelial cells. Endothelial cell loss 4 years after transplantation was 46% (SD 16, n = 12), which was similar to the postoperative decline in cell density reported for corneas stored for far shorter periods in McCarey-Kaufman medium at 4 degrees C.
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