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Sector Opinion, on How Corneal Tissue Should Be Exported, and to Whom - Using the Example of Australia as an Export Nation
Heather M Machin MBA, Gerard Sutton, Paul N Baird PhD
Transnational activity, export, import, corneal tissue, Australia
Purpose: 22.8% of annual global corneal transplants occur through the movement of corneal tissue between nations. While the practice has existed since 1961, unfortunately, there remains a paucity of information describing how export/import occurs, who the key stakeholders are, how this impacts those engaged, and the recommendations and pitfalls. This means eye banks, surgeons and governments, who seek to engage or withdraw from the practice, have little information to guide their decision making.
Method: Through the example of our own nation, Australia, we conducted grounded-theory semi-structured interviews with sector experts, via saturation and sentiment analysis methods. We unearthed previously undescribed information, and captured recommendations influenced by interviewee real-world lived experience. Finally, we asked interviewees if Australia routinely exported, how this should occur, and how they should decide where to export to?
Results: Interviewees recommended a nationally governed non-profit and transparent collaborative approach, and that domestic demand must be met before exportation. If third parties were to be engaged, clear policy was advised. They proposed low-resource neighbouring nations be prioritised, followed by low-resource nations in Australia’s wider geographical region.
Conclusion: Corneal tissue export/import requires careful planning with national stakeholders, to safeguard both export and import nations, and ensure practice does not undermine either nations self-sustainable directives. Engagement must be transparent and in the best interest of donors, ensuring donations are exported systematically and fairly to those awaiting a transplant in foreign lands.