An Arab man from Haifa regained his sight after Israeli surgeons performed an artificial cornea transplant, which required no human donor tissue.

By Yakir Benzion, United With Israel

Jamal Furani, 78, from Haifa, had undergone four cornea transplants, but each one eventually failed and he kept returning to almost total blindness.

That all changed earlier this month when Israeli surgeons performed a totally artificial cornea transplant, which required no human donor tissue.

Not only could Furani see again, but there was hardly a dry eye in the room.

“Unveiling this first implanted eye and being in that room, in that moment, was surreal,” said Dr. Gilad Litvin, CorNeat Vision’s co-founder, who invented the device.

“After years of hard work, seeing a colleague implant the CorNeat KPro with ease and witnessing a fellow human being regain his sight the following day was electrifying and emotionally moving. 

There were a lot of tears in the room,” Dr. Litvin said.

Furani was the recipient of the CorNeat KPro, the first artificial cornea that completely integrates with the eye wall, with no reliance on donor tissue. As soon as the bandages were removed the day after the surgery, Furani was able to read text and recognize family members. “The innovation here stems from the ability to take something totally synthetic that has no cells or tissue and implant it in the wall of the eye so that it essentially turns into a part of the body,” Litvin said.

The implant is designed to replace deformed, scarred or opacified corneas and is expected to fully and immediately rehabilitate the vision of corneally blind patients following a relatively simple operation. 

CorNeat believes its device will “transform global corneal therapy and provide, for the first time, a reliable and scalable synthetic substitute to the human cornea, significantly impacting the lives of millions of people with cornea-related visual impairments and blindness.”

“The surgical procedure was straightforward, and the result exceeded all of our expectations,” said Professor Irit Bahar, head of Opthamology at Rabin Medical Center in Tel Aviv. 

“The moment we took off the bandages was an emotional and significant moment. Moments like these are the fulfillment of our calling as doctors.”

Furani’s daughter, Khulad, told Channel 12 news that Jamal was now able to see his new two-month old grandson.

“He was missing that something – identifying, feeling it. To see with your own eyes. It’s not being only able to hear or to smell.”

“As much as you are happy, I’m even happier,” Jamal told the medical team. “It’s my treasure. I want to see.”

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