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The 123 Year Old Eyes
October 30, 2008 2:30 PM   Subscribe

Bernt Aune's corneas are 123 years old, which possibly makes them the oldest living human tissue on record.

Eduard Zirm performed the first successful corneal transplant was in 1905, and was soon followed by hundreds of successful transplantations. The Eye Bank Association of America was established in 1985, in part to provide regulation of eye banks in the US. Over 100 banks now operate in the country, and over 400 banks exist worldwide.

Until recently, most US eye banks only accepted eye tissue from donors aged 65 or less; a new study has shown that corneas from donors aged 66 to 75 can be used just as well. "This could expand the donor pool by 20 to 35 percent."

Here is a pamphlet [pdf] on the history of corneal and eye transplants from the EBAA.
A personal log of a cornea transplant.
posted by andeles (27 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Also, I first found the Bernt Aune story through the always excellent QI News Items.
posted by andeles at 2:34 PM on October 30, 2008


We're redecorating at home, I was thinking of using Bernt Aune for the walls.
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:41 PM on October 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Bernt Pancreas' Chick Corea 8-Track sounds like it's 125 years old.
posted by Bernt Pancreas at 2:57 PM on October 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Vintage organ transplants: the hot new body mod.
posted by roger ackroyd at 3:00 PM on October 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is fascinating. We're one of the lucky few generations of humans who are hearing every day about scientific and social records being absolutely shattered. The world completely changing has become commonplace. The oldest living human organ, ever, being discovered in someone who's not all that old as a result of a procedure that was unthinkable when that organ was born just seems ho-hum to most of us children of the information age. So mundane that the name of the guy in the story is more noteworthy.

Thanks for the post, andeles.
posted by lostburner at 3:04 PM on October 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


I work in a building with an Eye Bank and let me just say, getting on the elevator with the guy who works there, when he's carrying a small Igloo cooler, is very, very disconcerting.
posted by tristeza at 3:05 PM on October 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


tristeza, ask him if he ever does that bit from Pan's Labyrinth with them when nobody's looking.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:08 PM on October 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


If only you could see the things I've seen with your eyes.
posted by aubilenon at 3:16 PM on October 30, 2008 [7 favorites]


weird.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 3:21 PM on October 30, 2008


If only you could see the things I've seen with your eyes.

I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Freight ships docking off the fjords of Oslo. I watched snow banks glitter in the dark near the Lillehammer Olympic village. All those moments will be lost in time... like tears in rain. Time to die.
posted by DecemberBoy at 4:09 PM on October 30, 2008 [16 favorites]


Do Hela cells count? Thats the horse to bet on in the immortality race.
posted by christhelongtimelurker at 4:22 PM on October 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Go Norway! And also, when this guy dies, they should totally transplant his corneas into someone else. Doesn't really matter if they work or not, but there are records to set here.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 4:52 PM on October 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


I had a cornea transplant many years ago. Like many transplant organs, mine came from the teenaged victim of a motorcycle accident. My doctor joked at the time that I could truthfully say that I had the eyes of a teenager.
I realized recently that my eyes are now middle-aged. It's weird to be living this story in reverse...my eyes will always be younger than I am.
posted by Eddie Mars at 4:55 PM on October 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


A corneas actually alive? I thought they were like cartilage or hair: dead, not-rotting tissue.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:52 PM on October 30, 2008


This is strangely fascinating.
posted by ob at 6:01 PM on October 30, 2008


Hey! I thought that Cher was the oldest living human tissue on record.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 6:35 PM on October 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


A corneas actually alive?
Yes, corneas are definitely alive - they can get scratches, heal, get infections, get ulcers, etc. And obviously, you can transplant them as well, which is only done for living tissue.
posted by jacalata at 7:04 PM on October 30, 2008


That's fucking fascinating.
posted by Divine_Wino at 7:09 PM on October 30, 2008


That is one fascinating and well crafted first post, andeles - thank you!
posted by madamjujujive at 7:23 PM on October 30, 2008


We do indeed live in interesting times.

Question for biology/genetic types: What about the telomeres in the DNA of those corneas? Aren't those cells going to eventually run out of telomeres, and be unable to divide?
posted by Freen at 7:45 PM on October 30, 2008


So, does he have his father's eyes?
posted by XMLicious at 8:03 PM on October 30, 2008


I realized recently that my eyes are now middle-aged. It's weird to be living this story in reverse...my eyes will always be younger than I am.
posted by Eddie Mars at 4:55 PM on October 30 [2 favorites -] Favorite added! [!]

So, wait ... our username is uxorysterical - is your wife's name Laura?
posted by kcds at 8:55 PM on October 30, 2008


Your username, sorry, bad typing.
posted by kcds at 8:55 PM on October 30, 2008


Very cool. Within a couple of decades they will be able to do this with all body parts other than the brain. This guy just had a hand transplant. Thirty years from now you will be able to live forever.
posted by Mr_Zero at 9:06 PM on October 30, 2008


This post just made me remember that, in my dream last night, my corneas fell off. Just fell right the fuck off. It was terrifying, disgusting, and bloody. Terrifyingly, disgustingly bloody.

Happy Halloween, everybody.
posted by Rhaomi at 3:30 AM on October 31, 2008


The last thing we need are some jerks riding around on their modded bikes calling out "Oooh look at me and my steampunk eyes!"
posted by rmless at 8:39 AM on October 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


Well, I'm 213 years old. I've replaced my head twice and my body three times, but I'm still me, right?
posted by Rock Steady at 7:53 PM on October 31, 2008


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