11/08/2012 01:23 EST | Updated 01/08/2013 05:12 EST

Saskatoon Health Region reimburses patients, says sorry for charging for corneas

SASKATOON - The Saskatoon Health Region is apologizing and opening its wallet after wrongly charging 11 patients for cornea transplants.

The region charged each patient $3,600 for each cornea used in eye operations that help restore vision and reduce pain.

Maura Davies, CEO of the region, says they are very, very sorry.

She says the service is fully covered under medicare and the region's decision to charge for the corneas did not respect the Canada Health Act.

The corneas were imported from accredited eye banks in the United States.

About 120 patients are now waiting for cornea transplants in Saskatchewan, with some facing up to a three-year wait.