TAMPA, Fla.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Lions Eye Institute for Transplant and Research (LEITR), a nonprofit organization dedicated to the recovery, evaluation and distribution of eye tissue, and RTI Donor Services, Inc. (RTIDS), a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing responsible stewardship of the gift of tissue donation, announced an expanded relationship to increase efficiencies in tissue donation and enhance patients’ lives. Through this relationship, each partner will focus on its core area of expertise. Beginning November 1, 2018, LEITR will manage all aspects of tissue recovery services for Florida hospitals in RTIDS’ former service area and RTIDS will focus specifically on acquiring tissue for processing and distribution.

LEITR will now expand from exclusively procuring eye tissue to assuming responsibility for procurement of bone, skin, heart valves, connective tissue and veins used in surgeries and medical research at hospitals throughout Florida. LEITR will reach more facilities, develop new programs and a deeper level of service benefiting hospitals, health systems and donor families. The relationship will expand LEITR’s network to include 189 hospitals and medical examiner offices in Florida and 72 facilities in Louisiana. LEITR anticipates employing many of RTIDS’ professional team of specialists, growing its staff across Florida to ensure all areas of expertise are covered.

“The progression of this long-standing relationship with RTIDS will allow us to expand our services across the state in alliance with an organization that places the patient at the center, which is important to us,” said Jason Woody, President and CEO, LEITR. “LEITR is proud to assume responsibility for the careful and dignified procurement of life-saving and life-enhancing tissue across Florida.”

RTIDS is affiliated with RTI Surgical (Nasdaq: RTIX), a global surgical implant company. Through this relationship, RTI is transforming its approach to tissue acquisition to align more directly to its business and the needs of patients. RTIDS will transition from partially managing tissue sourcing to wholly relying on its trusted organ procurement organization partners for its tissue supply. For RTI, it also means greater focus on advancing current tissue processing technology and developing new products and implants.

“RTI is focusing on tissue, such as dermis and cartilage, used to develop unique allograft implants,” said Olivier Visa, President, RTIDS. “This requires us to be more intentional about what type of tissue and how much tissue is recovered and processed based on patient need, thus maximizing the gift of tissue donation to treat more patients.”

RTI has a proud history of tissue innovation and safety, and recently announced a significant global milestone of providing more than 8 million biologic implants processed through RTI’s proprietary sterilization processes with zero confirmed incidence of implant-associated infection. In 2017 alone, RTI distributed more than 600,000 biologic implants—helping surgeons serve patients in nearly 50 countries. RTI’s tissue-based implants are used in surgical procedures such as anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction, meniscus transplantation, fracture repair, rotator cuff repair, wound coverings, post-mastectomy breast reconstruction and abdominal wall repair for hernias.

Nationwide, life-enhancing tissue is generously donated by approximately 30,000 donors each year, and a single donor can help 75 or more people improve their lives.1 For millions of Americans, tissue transplants have relieved their pain, returned their mobility, preserved their limbs and prevented amputation.2

About the Lions Eye Institute for Transplant & Research (LEITR)

The Lions Eye Institute for Transplant & Research, Inc., (LEITR) is a nonprofit, charitable organization dedicated to the recovery, evaluation and distribution of eye tissue for transplantation, research and education. LEITR’s Eye Bank, located in Tampa, Fla., is one of the largest combined eye bank and ocular research centers in the world. Since its inception, it has brought the “Gift of Sight” to more than 130,000 men, women and children worldwide. For more information, visit www.lionseyeinstitute.org.

About RTI Donor Services

RTI Donor Services, Inc. (RTI Donor Services) is a nonprofit tissue acquisition agency working in collaboration with the donation community and healthcare facilities in perpetuating the gift of tissue donation. RTI Donor Services is accredited by the American Association of Tissue Banks and affiliated with RTI Surgical, Inc. (RTI Surgical), a global surgical implant company providing surgeons with safe biologic, metal and synthetic implants. Both RTI Donor Services and RTI Surgical are focused on improving the lives of others by maximizing the gift of tissue donation and providing safe tissue implants for recipients.

1 Donate Life America: National Donate Life Month – April 2018 Donation and Transplantation Statistics. Online at https://www.donatelife.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/2018-NDLM-Donation-and-Transplantation-Statistics-FINAL-12.17-FINAL-public.pdf. Last accessed July 26, 2018.

2 Data on file at RTI Donor Services, Inc.