Below is a letter written by a transplant recipient’s wife celebrating the 5 year anniversary of her husband receiving the Gift of Sight
All identifying information has been removed to maintain confidentiality
I wouldn’t be surprised if a corneal transplant was the furthest from most peoples’ minds when they selflessly choose to donate theirs or a loved one’s organs and tissues. Although my husband’s eye condition was not life or death, it affected his quality of life greatly. The gift of sight is often taken for granted but when it is compromised, you know how precious it is.
As we approach the 5th year anniversary of my husband’s successful corneal transplant I thought of how we can make a difference to honor this milestone. I started to learn more so I can encourage others to be a donor too. This is when I learned that the recipient can write a thank you letter to the donor’s family, and that the donor’s family likely lost their loved one only 3-5 days prior to his surgery.
My husband was diagnosed with keratoconus as a teenager, and slowly his sight disintegrated. At the age of 27 there was nothing more that could be done, other than a transplant. Since his surgery, he can see perfectly with glasses. He drove me cross country – my dream come true. They say a “picture is worth a thousand words” because I cannot even explain how gorgeous the sites were that we saw, thanks to our donor, our doctor and medical advances. Additionally, how important it is to see, as my husband’s job requires eye sight for safety. And thankfully, he has watched our first child’s birth and growth into an active toddler and we have another on the way. I am so grateful for our donor’s decision.
Shortly into my research I discovered the Lions Eye Bank for Long Island. Kenneth Manger, Director of the Lions Eye Bank for Long Island graciously took the time to speak with me and explained so much helpful information about eye donations and the Lions Eye Bank. This is when I learned that there is a shortage of donors in NY so they had to receive my husband’s cornea donation from out of state.
Because my husband is so young, he is likely to outlive this corneal transplant, and will need another one. And even though the process was painful, uncomfortable and a nuisance (he still has stitches in his eye that requires frequent doctor visits as they pop!) we can only be grateful to the donor and their family for giving him the gift of sight.