Freeman News

Freeman Honored for Eye Donations

March 29, 2017

Freeman Hospital West receives Excellence in Eye Donation Award for third straight year.

For the third straight year, Saving Sight®, one of the largest eye banks in the country, has honored Freeman Health System with the Excellence in Eye Donation Award. This award recognizes achievements in providing the gift of sight through corneal transplants.

In 2016, staff at Freeman Hospital West helped facilitate 67 eye donation cases, which resulted in 75 individuals receiving restored sight through a corneal transplant. Overall, Freeman achieved a 60 percent consent rate for eye donation.

“This would not be possible without the dedicated and compassionate work of our critical care physicians and nurses,” said Paula F. Baker, Freeman President and Chief Executive Officer. “They go above and beyond to work with patients and their families to ensure their final wish of eye, organ and tissue donation is met.”

The Excellence in Eye Donation Award was created in 2014 to recognize hospitals that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to eye donation. It is given to Saving Sight partner hospitals that achieve at least 10 donors and have an eye donation consent rate exceeding 45 percent. Fewer than 15 percent of Saving Sight’s partner hospitals in Missouri, Kansas and Illinois receive the award.

“Children see to learn, parents watch their children grow and older adults maintain independent lifestyles thanks to the vision made possible through corneal transplants each year,” said Tony Bavuso, Saving Sight Chief Executive Officer. “We are grateful to our partners at Freeman who believe in our mission to change lives by saving sight and work with our courageous donors and donor families to make the precious gift of sight possible for countless individuals last year.”  

In 2016, Saving Sight provided corneas to more than 2,900 corneal transplant recipients. Each year, approximately 48,000 individuals in the United States require a cornea transplant to restore vision that has been lost due to disease, disorder or injury.

In addition to providing the gift of sight to 75 individuals in 2016, many families extended the legacy of a loved one through the gift of organ donation at Freeman. Twenty-six organs were transplanted in 2016, giving individuals a second chance at life. The organ conversion rate at Freeman in 2016 was 86 percent. The national goal for the same year was 75 percent.

Approximately 1,900 individuals also received the healing gift of tissue donation. The national goal was 40 percent in 2016. Freeman exceeded the national goal with a tissue conversion rate of 47 percent.

Freeman is a partner hospital of Midwest Transplant Network, a federally certified not-for-profit organ procurement organization. As Freeman exceeded the national goals in organ and tissue conversion rates, Midwest Transplant Network also reported a record high in 2016 with 228 organ donors. Donors contributed to 728 life-saving transplants, a 23 percent increase in the number of lives saved from 2015. Additionally, 1,352 tissue and cornea donors potentially provided life-enhancing gifts to up to 55,000 recipients.

Nationally, more than 120,000 people are waiting for an organ – one person is added to a waiting list every 10 minutes. By registering to be an organ donor, an individual can save as many as eight lives and directly improve the lives of up to 50 people through tissue donation. At the end of 2016, 73 percent of adults in Missouri were listed on the Missouri Donor Registry and 66 percent of adults in Kansas were listed on the Kansas Donor Registry.

About Freeman Health System
Locally owned, not-for-profit and nationally recognized, Freeman Health System includes Freeman Hospital West, Freeman Hospital East, Freeman Neosho Hospital and Ozark Center – the area’s largest provider of behavioral health services – as well as two urgent care clinics, dozens of physician clinics and a variety of specialty services. In 2017, Freeman earned dozens of individual awards for medical excellence and patient safety from CareChex®, a quality rating system that helps consumers evaluate healthcare providers. U.S. News & World Report ranked Freeman one of the top Hospitals in Southwest Missouri more than five years in a row, and the Leapfrog Group awarded Freeman the highest grade possible in the Fall 2016 Hospital Patient Safety Score. With more than 300 physicians on staff representing more than 60 specialties, Freeman provides cancer care, heart and vascular care, neurology and neurosurgery, orthopaedics, children’s services and women’s services. Additionally, Freeman is the only Children’s Miracle Network Hospital in a 70-mile radius. For more information, visit, or follow Freeman at Follow Freeman President and Chief Executive Officer Paula Baker at