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Founded in 1947, the Illinois Eye-Bank was the fourth organization of its kind established in the United States. A tiny space at Cook County Hospital originally housed the facility. Dr. William Hughes, a pioneer in the early development of transplant surgery, is widely considered one of the founding fathers of eye banking; his leadership was critical during the early years of the Illinois Eye-Bank.
Dr. Maurice F. Rabb became the Illinois Eye-Bank's first Medical Director in 1969, and is recognized for his efforts to increase donation awareness while augmenting the organization's involvement in research and professional training. In 1983, Joel Sugar, M.D. assumed the role of Medical Director for the Eye-Bank, and was instrumental in its 1985 affiliation with Midwest Eye-Banks.
Illinois Eye-Bank, Watson Gailey
Renowned ophthalmologist Dr. Watson Gailey was a pioneer in corneal surgery. He first opened his practice in Bloomington in 1908. Dr. Gailey's commitment to improving the quality of care and treatment for eye conditions led to the formation of the Watson Gailey Eye Foundation.
The organization now known as the Illinois Eye-Bank, Watson Gailey was founded in 1952 by the Foundation. At that time, Dr. Gailey was still directly involved, and played a key role in the establishment of the Eye-Bank, then located at Mennonite Hospital. Four decades later, the Eye-Bank was located in the BroMenn Regional Medical Center and was known as the BroMenn-Watson Gailey Eye-Bank. It became a division of Midwest Eye-Banks in 1996 and, following a relocation to its own office and lab space in 2002, became known as the Illinois Eye-Bank, Watson Gailey.