About Us

About Baton Rouge Regional Eye Bank

The Baton Rouge Regional Eye Bank (BRREB) was established in 1976 as a community service to provide the highest quality eye tissue to local ophthalmologists for transplant surgery. Its founding was the inspiration of Sister Lilian Lynch, FMOL. BRREB is charged with the mission of public education about eye donation through workshops, health fairs and other community programs.

BRREB serves hospitals, doctors and patients in South Central regions of Louisiana. It is a fully accredited member of the Eye Bank Association of America. The Executive Director is Jamie H. Collier, BS, MA, CEBT. The Chairman of the Board is David M. Dragon, MD. The Medical Director is Thomas J. Heigle, MD.

How Can You Help?

Attend an Event

The Baton Rouge Regional Eye Bank proudly hosts, co-hosts and assists in many functions each year designed to educate, raise funds or thank the community from which recipients have been given another opportunity for sight.
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Become a Donor

Donate Life Louisiana’s collective mission and call to action is to create trust, save and enhance lives, and positively impact the number of Louisiana citizens in the donor registry through education, awareness and leadership.
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Donate

The Baton Rouge Regional Eye Bank is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization that relies heavily on generous contributions from our community in order to supply the Greater Baton Rouge area and beyond with the precious gift of quality corneal tissue.
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Meet Our Board Members

Since 1987, Dr. David Dragon has been providing eye care for the patients of the Baton Rouge region. As a board certified Ophthalmologist with over 25 years of experience, Dr. Dragon takes great pride in staying ahead of the curve of technological advances in the Eye Care Field.

Dr. Dragon first received his Bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of New Orleans. He then graduated with his medical degree from the Louisiana State University Medical School. After his studies at LSU, Dr. Dragon completed an internship in Internal Medicine at Ochsner Foundation Hospital and residency training in Ophthalmology at Sinai Hospital of Baltimore. To further advance his training, Dr. Dragon also completed a fellowship in Cornea and External Disease at the University of Florida.  He practices ophthalmology at Eye Specialists of Louisiana in Baton Rouge.

Dr. Dragon served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Baton Rouge Regional Eye Bank since 2002.

Dr. Charles Afeman graduated from Louisiana State University Medical School in New Orleans in 1960.  He interned at St. Luke’s Hospital in Denver, Colorado and completed his residency at Charity Hospital in New Orleans.  He joined Eye Medical Center in 1965.

He partnered with Sister Lilian’s earliest efforts as the formation of the Eye Bank evolved.  He served as Medical Director of the Eye Bank from 1975 to 2005.  He performed the first corneal transplant on March 9, 1976.  Dr. Afeman’s professional involvement spans over 30 years of dedicated oversight providing hands on technical and medical direction in all areas of this multidimensional program.

Dr. William “Beau” Clark is a native of Baton Rouge and graduated from St. Michael the Archangel High School. He graduated from Louisiana Tech University where he received his Bachelor of Science.  Next, he graduated from Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans.  He completed his residency in Emergency Medicine in Baton Rouge and is board certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine.

Dr. Clark was elected East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner in November, 2011 and continues to practice emergency medicine at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Gonzales, LA.  Dr. Clark has served as Medical Director for the Louisiana State Police SWAT Team, Louisiana House of Representatives, Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Bureau of Emergency Medical Services, and East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team.

Jamie Collier is Executive Director of the Baton Rouge Regional Eye Bank (BRREB).  She earned her Master of Arts at Louisiana State University in physical anthropology and Bachelor of Science at Northwestern State University in biological science.
Jamie began her career in eye banking in February of 2005 and received certification as Eye Bank Technician (CEBT) in July of 2007 by the Eye Bank Association of America (EBAA).  She has represented BRREB nationally by serving on the following EBAA committees:  Donor Development Task Force, Technician Education Committee, Certification Board as well as Chair of the Exam Committee.  She was recently appointed to the EBAA Governance Review Committee.
Jamie responds to the needs of local ophthalmologists to provide the highest quality tissue for transplant and participates in both public and professional educational endeavors. She also maintains a cooperative relationship with Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency (LOPA) to help facilitate organ, eye and tissue donation in Louisiana.  Jamie currently serves as Secretary on the LOPA Advisory Board and the Donate Life Louisiana State Team.
Originally from the New Orleans area, Jamie is married with three children. In her spare time, she enjoys volunteering at her church, St. Paul Lutheran, and serving as Assistant Leader of her daughter’s Girl Scout Troop.
Dr. Thomas Heigle, a native of New Orleans, Louisiana, graduated from Jesuit High School.  He received his medical degree from Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans. He then interned at Alton Ochsner Medical Foundation in New Orleans and completed his residency in Ophthalmology at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute – University of Miami.  In 1996, he completed a fellowship in cornea, external disease and refractive surgery at Emory University.  He practiced at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute 1996 to 2000 before joining Eye Medical Center in 2000.
Dr. Heigle has served as Medical Director to the Baton Rouge Regional Eye Bank since 2005.  He is married with two children and resides in Baton Rouge.

Dr. Daniel Nelson is a Baton Rouge native.  After graduating Louisiana State University with a degree in biochemistry, he attained his medical degree from Louisiana State University School of Medicine in Shreveport. He then completed an internship at Earl K Long Hospital in Baton Rouge before moving on to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina to complete his residency in Ophthalmology. He moved back to Baton Rouge in 2015 and joined Eye Medical Center. He completed his fellowship in cornea and external diseases at Eye Medical Center in 2018.

He is married with three children and resides in Baton Rouge.

Ernie Landry graduated in accounting from Louisiana State University in 1977.  He was Comptroller for Nuclear Systems Inc. from 1980 – 1987.  He then served as CFO for Fifth Generation Systems, Inc. 1988 – 1994.  Mr. Landry is currently Administrator of Eye Medical Center since 1994.

He has served on the Board of Directors since 2002.  He is a native of White Castle, Louisiana married with three children.

Ginger Miller served as Executive Director of the Baton Rouge Regional Eye Bank for more than 30 years and is a graduate of Our Lady of the Lake Nursing College with years of clinical experience in various disciplines of healthcare.

Ginger received certification as an Eye Bank Technician (CEBT) in 1985 by the Eye Bank Association of America (EBAA). She has served on the following EBAA committees:  Chairman of Exam for 6 years, CERT Board for 4 years, Accreditation for 6 years, EBAA Secretary for 4 years, Technical Education for 6 years and past President and Secretary of South Central Region for 6 years.  She received the prestigious Leonard Heise Award in 2001, an award for outstanding dedication, unswerving loyalty and leadership to the Eye Banking community.

During Ginger’s tenure she coordinated activities with the Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency (LOPA) in public education and hospital in-services to facilitate organ and tissue donation.  She served on LOPA’s Advisory Board for 7 years.

Internationally, Ginger has worked tirelessly to educate the citizens of Honduras and Guatemala about the gift of sight.  She coordinated a ten-man team for a medical mission trip to Honduras in 1992.  Again in 1994 she accompanied an eleven-man team for a medical mission trip to Guatemala.  As a result, these very successful missions established viable eye donor programs that continue to serve the people of their countries.

In 2001- 2002, Ginger guided the Eye Bank as it transitioned from sponsorship of Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center to an independent status.  The Eye Bank was renamed the Baton Rouge Regional Eye Bank and has enjoyed accelerated growth and recognition. Eye Bank service has remained steadfast due to Ginger’s dedication to excellence.

When given the opportunity to promote this valuable program in the Baton Rouge community, Ginger’s enthusiasm and commitment are always evident as she puts her dedication to work serving the Eye Bank.

John has been a part of the WBRZ family since July 1977. During that time, he has held many titles including reporter, anchor and Director of News. Currently, John is the co-anchor for the popular morning show, 2une In. He is also the anchor of WBRZ News 2 Louisiana at Noon.

After graduating from Broadmoor High School in Baton Rouge, John received his degree in journalism from the Missouri School of Journalism. He has received numerous Associated Press awards for features, documentaries and special medical reporting, as well as awards from the Louisiana State Medical Society and the East Baton Rouge Parish Medical Society.

John joined the Baton Rouge Regional Eye Bank Board of Directors in 2002.  He resides in Baton Rouge with his wife Jackie O’Beirne-Pastorek.

Meet Our Staff

Jamie Collier is Executive Director of the Baton Rouge Regional Eye Bank (BRREB).  She earned her Master of Arts at Louisiana State University in physical anthropology and Bachelor of Science at Northwestern State University in biological science.

Jamie began her career in eye banking in February of 2005 and received certification as Eye Bank Technician (CEBT) in July of 2007 by the Eye Bank Association of America (EBAA).  She has represented BRREB nationally by serving on the following EBAA committees:  Donor Development Task Force, Technician Education Committee, Certification Board as well as Chair of the Exam Committee.  She was recently appointed to the EBAA Governance Review Committee.

Jamie responds to the needs of local ophthalmologists to provide the highest quality tissue for transplant and participates in both public and professional educational endeavors. She also maintains a cooperative relationship with Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency (LOPA) to help facilitate organ, eye and tissue donation in Louisiana.  Jamie currently serves as Secretary on the LOPA Advisory Board and the Donate Life Louisiana State Team.

Julia Wallace is the Development Director at Baton Rouge Regional Eye Bank (BRREB). She earned her Bachelor of Arts from Tulane University in music.

Julia began her career at an eye surgery center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She then began working at BRREB in August of 2013. As Development Director, Julia maintains relationships between BRREB and physicians, health care providers, coroner’s investigators, and funeral home personnel. She is also active in community education through health fairs, schools, churches, and community and civic organizations.

Julia is originally from Houston, Texas and moved to Baton Rouge in May of 2007.

Janet Henderson is the Director of Quality for the Baton Rouge Regional Eye Bank. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Microbiology at the University of Southwestern Louisiana in Lafayette. Janet interned at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center  and became a licensed  Medical Technologist with a specialty certification in Blood Banking. After her 42-year career in Transfusion Services at Our Lady of the Lake, Janet brought her knowledge of regulatory requirements to Baton Rouge Regional Eye Bank, applying them to the Eye Banking industry.

Frequently Asked Questions

An eye bank is an agency staffed with trained medical professionals who recover, evaluate, process and distribute eye tissue for surgical, research and educational purposes, using strict medical guidelines. Standards for eye banking in the United States are rigidly enforced by the Eye Bank Association of America (EBAA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The cornea is a clear surface on the front of the eye, much like the crystal on your watch. It is the main focusing element of the eye and light must pass through it in order to have sight. If it becomes cloudy or scarred from disease, injury, infection or other cause, vision is dramatically reduced or completely lost. A corneal transplant is recommended by an ophthalmologist.

It is a surgical procedure in which a disc-shaped segment of the injured cornea is replaced with a similar segment of a healthy, donor cornea. Over 97% of all corneal transplants successfully restore the recipient’s vision.

Transplant tissue comes from only one precious source – an eye donor. Thoughtful and caring people or their families may choose to donate eye tissue at the time of death. As of now, there is no synthetic material suitable for corneal tissue; therefore, only living corneal tissue from a recently deceased donor can be used for transplant.

Nearly anyone can be an eye donor regardless of age or poor eyesight. Aside from those suffering from infections or a few highly communicable diseases such as HIV or hepatitis, most people are eligible donors.

Donated eye tissue and the donor’s medical history are evaluated extensively by BRREB, in accordance with strict medical standards set forth by the EBAA and FDA. Extensive blood testing and careful training of laboratory personnel ensure the safety of all surgical tissue.

No, only the cornea and segments of sclera can be transplanted. Scleral tissue comes from the outer white portion of the eye and is used for certain glaucoma procedures and reconstructive surgery. However, whole eyes are very important for research and education. Research on glaucoma, retinal disease, diabetes complications and other sight disorders help find new treatments and cures.

Corneas should be recovered as soon as possible after death, preferably within 12 hours of the death. Ideally, transplantation is performed within a week.

Great care is taken to preserve the natural appearance of the donor. Funeral arrangements with viewing if desired, may take place without delay.

All major religious faiths support organ, eye and tissue donation, viewing it as an opportunity to give the gift of life and sight.

There is absolutely no charge to the family or estate of the donor for the donation process. All costs associated with eye recovery are charged to the eye bank.

The gift of sight is made and received anonymously. However, most eye banks encourage and convey anonymously written notes between recipients and donor families. Although the process is anonymous, if the donor family and recipient wish to connect, we are happy to facilitate communication.

Learn more on our resources page. 

No. Strict laws and legal guidelines must be followed before death can be certified. The physician certifying the patient’s death can in no way be involved with recovery or transplantation.

Louisiana’s Anatomical Gift Act allows you to consent for yourself. You can register your decision to be an organ, eye and tissue donor at the Office of Motor Vehicles or online. Let family members know about your decision to become a donor, allowing them to support your decision.

View our EBBA Accreditation and FDA Registration

Learn more about the impact eye tissue donation has on donor families and recipients.