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Gift of Sight Stories

All of our cornea transplant recipients have amazing stories to tell, and they all culminate in the generosity of people they’ve never met. Here are just a few of these amazing stories. If you have one to share, please tell us your Gift of Sight story.

A Donor's Gift Helps Him Serve & Protect

damian2Master Corporal Damian Vice has had a successful law enforcement career with the Police Department of Wilmington, Delaware.

Of the different jobs he has taken on through the years, certainly the task of visiting problem schools and talking to students about making the right decisions has been one of the more rewarding. When students suggest that they are a product of their environments, he responds by sharing that he too did not have everything a kid is typically entitled to when growing up.

Read more: A Donor's Gift Helps Him Serve & Protect

Thanks To a Donor, Her Shows Will Go On

leslie_shapiro2It was the dream role of a lifetime!

Being cast as Maria in The Sound of Music was Leslie’s most exciting theatrical experience yet–and perhaps her most challenging. While performing to rave reviews, she spent most of her moments backstage flushing her left eye with a steroid solution to ease the blurriness. It was both an amazing and a very scary time for Leslie, who began to seriously wonder whether she was finally going to become blind.

Read more: Thanks To a Donor, Her Shows Will Go On

A Wonderful Gift

lifelong struggle for good visionFrom the time I was a teenager, I realized how important the gift of sight was.

Most members of my mother’s family had cataracts. My grandmother, who died in 1944, was practically blind for the last six years or so of her life. It was said she was too old to consider surgery. My mother’s sight was severely impaired by the time she was 60. In 1950, she underwent cataract surgery on one eye and then had to lie flat on her back with no movement for two weeks or more. The surgery was not successful, but she tried it on the other eye, thinking progress had been made in the few years between. That one really didn’t help either, and she was nearly blind for the last 10 years of her life. She also had shingles behind her eyes which never cleared up. Therefore, my mother and I were always very supportive of eye organizations.

Read more: A Wonderful Gift

Ship-Shape Sight

generosity of an eye donor provides siteEye problems had plagued Norm for years. To read, he held pages three to four inches away from his eyes.

His work fitting insulation on aircraft carriers in the evenings at the Philadelphia Naval Yard was also affected; just navigating his way around the ship was a challenge. Hard contact lenses helped, but they were difficult for Norm to wear. “My eyesight was worsening, and I wondered how I could work and adequately care for my family," Norm recalled. Finally, in a routine eye exam he learned the seriousness of his situation. He was diagnosed with keratoconus, a deterioration of the structure of the cornea that results in bulging of the cornea and loss of visual acuity. Norm was convinced his life was over.

Read more: Ship-Shape Sight

Share the Gift

organ donor is walking testament to the importance of being one

When Emily was a little girl, she loved to visit the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, New Jersey, with her family.

Her favorite exhibit was the dark and soundless Touch Tunnel, where Emily said it was as though her senses of sight and hearing had been turned off. It was intriguing and scary, she added, and gave her a better understanding of just how much people take for granted the ability to see in particular. It’s a lesson of which she’d be reminded later in her life.

Read more: Share the Gift

My Donors, My Heroes

Robert considers his donors his heroesEarly in his life, Robert and his family learned how to cope with his vision challenges.

They began with a serious bout of diphtheria that caused severe retinal scarring and blindness. From birth to age 1, he was blind in his left and right eyes. His mother’s determination and the application of a homeopathic treatment helped improve his overall sight in both eyes by age 3. When it was time for him to learn to read, Robert was fitted with special glasses. As a very young man, Robert knew he would never have perfect vision. What he did not know was just how much his vision would continue to affect his life.

Read more: My Donors, My Heroes

My Journey from Perfect Vision

Benefited from Descement Stripping Endothelial Keratoplasty (DSEK)As a teenager, I always wanted to learn to fly.

After attending college, I joined the U.S. Navy as a Naval Aviation Cadet in 1955 and was ordered to Pensacola to begin training to be become a Naval Aviator. I had perfect vision. In fact, I was told my vision was better than 20/20, the necessary minimum to become an Aviator. I completed my training, was commissioned an Ensign, and designated a Naval Aviator in 1956. My career in the U.S. Navy spanned a total of 24 years, over 5,000 flight hours, and many operational flights throughout the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and the Mediterranean Sea.

Read more: My Journey from Perfect Vision

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