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For one of the last Favorite Friend Fridays of 2020, we are spotlighting cornea recipient, Lauren Rittle. Originally from Pennsylvania, 24-year-old Lauren now resides in Virginia where she works as an Athletic Trainer for Virginia Tech.

Born with Macular Dystrophy, a very rare eye disease, Lauren suffered from vision issues at a young age. She was sent to an eye doctor at eight years old when her elementary school nurse suggested she should get checked out for glasses. The optometrist had never seen her eye condition before and she was referred to an eye specialist in Harrisburg, PA.

After a few other specialists and failed attempts to help her vision, it was determined that Lauren would require a corneal transplant in both eyes. In 2018 she began researching the procedure and scheduled the transplant for her left eye in January of 2019 with Dr. Raber. Within six months her left eye progressed to 20/20 vision and the right eye’s transplant was scheduled for that following summer.

Since receiving her corneal transplants Lauren now has near perfect vision in both eyes. “Colors are so much brighter now,” she says. “Everything is just easier—I can read street signs more easily, drive at night more comfortably, perform my job much better,” and this is all without requiring any corrective vision-wear like contacts or glasses!

After her transplants, Dr. Raber gave Lauren a folder from Lions Eye Bank of Delaware Valley (LEBDV) with information on reaching out to her donors’ families. After some time had passed Lauren heard back from one of them—the mother of Autumn, a 19 year old girl, and one of her cornea donors. “There really are no words to express my gratitude,” Lauren explains. “Thank you so much, it really changed my life.”

“If by sharing my story I can change even one person’s mind about donation, then it’s worth it. Donation has the ability to save and change so many lives.”

SOCIAL ICONSWhen a loved one passes away, they take with them a piece of those who loved them. The ‘Remembrance Butterfly’ is a symbol of love and a reminder of the ongoing connection we have with those we’ve lost. It is our hope that these butterflies will bring some comfort in remembering there will always be an unbroken connection between a Donor Family and their loved one.

SOCIAL ICONSThe butterfly pictured here, handmade by Eye Bank volunteers, represents donation as a symbol of change, life and hope. Our volunteers, many of whom are cornea transplant recipients, meet monthly at The Clay Studio in Philadelphia to handcraft our butterflies.

If you are a Donor Family, we would love to host a butterfly-making session in honor of your loved one.

If you are interested in joining us or learning more about this program please send an email to Alex Cummings at info@lebdv.org or give us a call at 215-563-1679. We look forward to seeing you!

SOCIAL ICONSDuring the month of November, Lions Eye Bank of Delaware Valley (LEBDV) celebrated all of the individuals that play a crucial role in the eye donation process in recognition of National Eye Donation Month.

Eye Donation Month is an annual event held each November to raise awareness about cornea donation and transplantation. It commemorates the selfless individuals who donated the gift of sight to others, and recipients whose lives have been transformed thanks to their generosity.

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This year’s national campaign theme, “A Community of Compassion,” highlighted the many people working together in various roles, driven by collective passion to #restoresight.  All month long we highlighted recipients, donors and their families, volunteers, staff members, eye bank professionals and surgeons—all part of our Community of Compassion.

To read these stories and stay up to date on all future ones, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

To learn how you can become a donor, please click here. We also encourage anyone who has a connection to eye donation to share their story.

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Join us virtually on Saturday, March 20, 2021 for our 6th Annual Cornea Transplant Recipient Luncheon.

Celebrate the Gift of Sight as we come together to showcase the success of cornea transplantation, honor donors and their families and promote the critical need for eye, organ and tissue donation!

Be on the lookout for more information via email as we get closer to the event. If you are not already on our mailing list, make sure you sign up for our emails (found at the bottom of any of our website pages) by clicking “Sign up for our newsletter.”

View last year’s 5th Annual Cornea Transplant Recipient Luncheon below:

SOCIAL ICONSWe would love to have you join the Eye Bank for our monthly Remembrance Butterfly volunteer group sessions at The Clay Studio in Philadelphia.

The butterflies pictured here are handmade by volunteers just like you and are sent out to Donor Families as a symbol of love and a reminder of the ongoing connection with those we’ve lost.

Once a month we meet at The Clay Studio for a couple of hours to make these beautiful Remembrance Butterflies. If you are interested in joining us or learning more about this program please send an email to Alex Cummings at info@lebdv.org or give us a call at 215-563-1679. We look forward to seeing you!

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In 2014 LEBDV’s forSight Newsletter featured adorable Mina, a young boy who was born with Peter’s Anomaly. Mina received his first cornea transplant at just four months old, followed by another one at six months.

We had the pleasure of catching up with Mina’s dad, Hany, and learning what that not-so-little boy is up to now. Mina is now 11 years old and starting his first year of Middle School. When Mina first began school he needed extra support and was behind his classmates, but going into sixth grade he is all caught up and taking all the same classes as his peers!

Mina underwent an additional cornea transplant surgery on his right eye in 2014. Two years ago he received Lasik surgery on his left eye, and the procedure was repeated again this past June. Although the pressure levels in his left eye need to be closely monitored right now, Mina’s Doctors, Dr. Levin and Dr. Rapuano are both very pleased with the state of both his corneas.

In addition to being able to read and write like the rest of us, Mina is also fluent in braille. When he is not in school, Mina enjoy spending time with his family, playing video games, and swimming.

We cannot wait to see all the wonderful things Mina and his family continue to do!

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For Favorite Friend Friday this week we have an incredible Lion, Board Member, and volunteer to brag about, Lion Mark Green. Now is the perfect time to feature Mark, as he has been invaluable in our fundraising efforts to make this year’s Gift of Sight Charity Golf Classic the best one yet!

To our initial surprise, this year’s golf tournament, taking place on Tuesday, October 27th, is turning out to be our most successful one yet! Much of this is thanks to the tireless work of Mark and his efforts to bring in golfers and sponsorships. To date, Mark has brought us twenty golfers and eighteen sponsors, and he’s not done yet!

Mark joined the Lions Club in 2005 and was introduced to Lions Eye Bank of Delaware Valley in 2010 when he joined the Board of Trustees. Being a Lion is about giving back to your community; prior to dedicating so much time to LEBDV, Mark was a volunteer fire fighter and oversaw their fundraising events. He was introduced to the Lions Club through a police officer he worked closely with during his time at the firehouse.

When asked about why he dedicates so much of his time to giving back, Mark says, “I enjoy helping people. As a past chairman and member of multiple committees, I get an inside look at all the incredible work done on a daily basis at the eye bank.” Mark has a niece who is legally blind and explains how she motivates him to help restore the gift of sight.

Besides Golf, one of Mark’s favorite events is the Annual Corneal Transplant Recipient Luncheon. “Seeing the faces of young kids and adults whose vision has been restored, there’s nothing like it. Meeting recipients and donor families firsthand makes our mission and work more real.”

When Mark is not working for PECO or volunteering for the eye bank, he is spending time with his wife, Nancy, his children Stephanie and Jeremy, and his two grandkids, Alivia and Evan.

If you see Mark next Tuesday at our Gift of Sight Charity Golf Classic, be sure to thank him for his incredible efforts in fundraising for the gift of sight. Thank you for all that you do for LEBDV Mark!

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            The incredible sight-saving work done at Lion’s Eye Bank would not be possible without the dedication of the Recovery Technicians! This week’s Favorite Friend Friday features Bill Ostrander, a passionate and hard-working Certified Eye Bank Technician (CEBT) at LEBDV.  This month actually marks Bill’s six year work anniversary at LEBDV!

            Before working at the eye bank, Bill graduated from Washington College and majored in Biology. After graduating, he worked at Thomas Jefferson University, primarily in the Cancer Center, for five years; Bill researched prostate cancer, performed lab management, and conducted experiments. Through connections in his field, Bill learned about eye banking and became interested in a position at LEBDV.

            There is no typical workday for Bill as a Recovery Technician, but a normal week consists of receiving referral calls from the Gift of Life Donor Program, reviewing all aspects of the cornea donor, and recovering the corneas. Beyond that, Bill also uses microscopes to evaluate corneas. He is able to tell how healthy the cornea is and verifies that it is the safest and highest quality tissue for transplantation. More recently, Bill has been reviewing donors’ health charts to make sure the donors qualify medically for cornea transplantation.

            Bill believes the most important aspect of his job is knowing that what he does directly affects recipients and their families. One thing Bill is really proud of is the Gratis Tissue Program; the program provides cornea tissue to all people despite their finances. He believes that a person’s ability to pay should never be a barrier for one’s ability to see. One of his favorite memories from working at LEBDV is seeing two current LEBDV employees, Alex and Holly, have personal experiences with corneal transplants and then dedicate their time to further help LEBDV.

When Bill is not on the job, he enjoys spending his free time relaxing down the shore with his wife, Amy, going to breweries, and staying active through exercise and lifting weights.

Thank you for all you do at LEBDV, Bill!

 

Friday, December 18, 2020

Remembrance Butterfly: Coming soon!

For one of the last Favorite Friend Fridays of 2020, we are spotlighting cornea recipient, Lauren Rittle. Originally from Pennsylvania, 24-year-old Lauren now resides in Virginia where she works as an Athletic Trainer for Virginia Tech.

Born with Macular Dystrophy, a very rare eye disease, Lauren suffered from vision issues at a young age. She was sent to an eye doctor at eight years old when her elementary school nurse suggested she should get checked out for glasses. The optometrist had never seen her eye condition before and she was referred to an eye specialist in Harrisburg, PA.

After a few other specialists and failed attempts to help her vision, it was determined that Lauren would require a corneal transplant in both eyes. In 2018 she began researching the procedure and scheduled the transplant for her left eye in January of 2019 with Dr. Raber. Within six months her left eye progressed to 20/20 vision and the right eye’s transplant was scheduled for that following summer.

Since receiving her corneal transplants Lauren now has near perfect vision in both eyes. “Colors are so much brighter now,” she says. “Everything is just easier—I can read street signs more easily, drive at night more comfortably, perform my job much better,” and this is all without requiring any corrective vision-wear like contacts or glasses!

After her transplants, Dr. Raber gave Lauren a folder from Lions Eye Bank of Delaware Valley (LEBDV) with information on reaching out to her donors’ families. After some time had passed Lauren heard back from one of them—the mother of Autumn, a 19 year old girl, and one of her cornea donors. “There really are no words to express my gratitude,” Lauren explains. “Thank you so much, it really changed my life.”

“If by sharing my story I can change even one person’s mind about donation, then it’s worth it. Donation has the ability to save and change so many lives.”

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Remembrance Butterfly: Coming soon!When a loved one passes away, they take with them a piece of those who loved them. The ‘Remembrance Butterfly’ is a symbol of love and a reminder of the ongoing connection we have with those we’ve lost. It is our hope that these butterflies will bring some comfort in remembering there will always be an unbroken connection between a Donor Family and their loved one.

Remembrance Butterfly: Coming soon!The butterfly pictured here, handmade by Eye Bank volunteers, represents donation as a symbol of change, life and hope. Our volunteers, many of whom are cornea transplant recipients, meet monthly at The Clay Studio in Philadelphia to handcraft our butterflies.

If you are a Donor Family, we would love to host a butterfly-making session in honor of your loved one.

If you are interested in joining us or learning more about this program please send an email to Alex Cummings at info@lebdv.org or give us a call at 215-563-1679. We look forward to seeing you!

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