Learn more about our journey from founding to what we are today
The first eye bank in Virginia was organized through the Medical College of Virginia in 1956. This eye bank soon became known as Old Dominion Eye Foundation, Inc., serving Virginia out of Richmond. In 1978, Lions District 24-D voted to establish an independent eye bank in Norfolk, Virginia. Named the Lions Medical Eye Bank and Research Center of Eastern Virginia, this eye bank became incorporated as an IRC 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization.
Under the leadership of its first Executive Director, Lion Edward “Moon” Kosjer, and Medical Director, Bruce I. Bodner, MD, the Lions Medical Eye Bank and Research Center of Eastern Virginia quickly established itself as a provider of safe, quality transplant eye tissue to the Tidewater region. As Past International Director of Lions Clubs International, Lion Moon Kosjer, together with his fellowship trained ophthalmologist counterpart, Dr. Bruce Bodner, endeavored to develop an eye bank with a vision extending well into the future.
By 1986, the Lions Medical Eye Bank and Research Center of Eastern Virginia upgraded facilities to a location within Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. A few years later, Lion Moon Kosjer stepped down as Executive Director, for health reasons. Though his successor, Lion Jay Garret, took the reigns in 1989, the eye bank never left the heart of Lion Moon Kosjer. Nearly 20 years later, the proud but humble Lion remains a voluntary servant to the eye bank, a crowning achievement.
In 1992, Lion Jay Garret ventured out of eye banking, promoting Kurt Weber to Executive Director after serving a short period as Technical Director. The same year, David Korroch was hired as Technical Director. In 1993, the Lions Medical Eye Bank and Research Center of Eastern Virginia became the first eye bank to routinely apply the law and ethical philosophy that consent by an individual (e.g. driver’s license or donor card) is consent for donation. Kurt and David took the vision of the Lions Medical Eye Bank and Research Center of Eastern Virginia to a whole new level, as founding members of the consortium of high-standard eye banks, Vision Share (www.visionshare.org), in 1997. Within 1 year, this duo toiled to open a new, state-of-the-art laboratory in the newly built River Pavilion in Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. The Lions, including Lion Moon Kosjer, were instrumental in this event.
By 2000, Kurt Weber had moved on to a directorship at another eye bank, and Lion David Korroch became the eye bank’s enthusiastic new leader. By 2004, the Lions Medical Eye Bank and Research Center of Eastern Virginia celebrated 25 years of serving the Tidewater region and the restoration of sight to over 15,000 patients through cornea and eye donation. On the heels of this celebration, in mid-2005, Lion Brian Philippy was brought on board as the Director of Quality Assurance & Technical Operations to streamline internal processes. In 2007, over 600 corneas and ocular tissue grafts were provided for transplant from Tidewater region donors.