Windsor's cornea transplant wait time shorter than average

The wait for cornea transplants in Windsor, Ont., is well below the national average. However, there is still room to improve doctors say.

"My patients wait for a year here in Windsor compared to two or three years in London, so we're better but we still wait for a year," said Dr. Ann Chiu, who performs cornea transplants at Hôtel-Dieu Grace.

Ontario patients wait, on average, 18-to-24 months for the surgery.

Susan Veresuk's eyesight got so bad she needed a magnifying glass to read. So, she opted for a cornea transplant.

"I was a little afraid," she said. "I used to sew and it was hard for me to thread the needle. I would do things at my house and my family would tell me you missed something here."

In 2011, she reluctantly had a corneal transplant in her right eye. A year later, convinced it worked and less afraid, she had the second one done.

Veresuk was originally on the waiting list in London. She was told the operation could be well over a year away. So, the surgeries were eventually performed by Chiu in Windsor.

Hôtel-Dieu Grace officials say it comes down to funding, as operating room time comes from a budget that must be shared amongst all procedures.

"There's always room for improvement," Chiu said. "Waiting for a year, generally, patients are very tolerant and acceptable because compared to other cities they wait less in Windsor. But a year is a year."

A World Health Organization corneal expert calls the delays, which are an issue nationwide,"unacceptable and totally unnecessary."

"And it's curable," said Vancouver surgeon Dr. Paul Dubord, a World Health Organization corneal expert. "A vast majority of these patients can be totally relieved from their symptoms."

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