For this week’s Favorite Friend Friday we would like to present to you one of LEBDV’s very own, Melissa Williams. Melissa has been with LEBDV for four years this month (Happy Anniversary!) “It’s very easy to remember my start date,” she says, “because it was the same time the Pope came to town!” Melissa is our Manager of Compliance and Regulatory Affairs. A crucial part of her job is double and triple checking all of the donor information to make sure the tissue that has been distributed is suitable.

Prior to joining LEBDV Melissa worked at a different Lions Eye Bank in Pennsylvania. During her time at this Eye Bank Melissa tried out a lot of different roles. “Recovery Specialist, Lab Tech, Distribution Coordinator, you name it, I did it” she recalls. With a degree in Neuroscience and an EMT background, starting out as an eye technician was a natural first step for her.

When asked about how she wound up working here for Lions Eye Bank of Delaware Valley, she recounts how her job as a Distribution Coordinator put her in touch regularly with us. “I would call up LEBDV and talk to Laurice, the tech secretary to see if they needed any cornea tissue that day. She was always so sweet to me on the phone, and when I found out there was an opening in the QA department, it just made sense.”

The driving force behind Melissa and her work is LEBDV’s mission of sight restoration. “The fact that we have a hand in helping people restore their lives by restoring their vision is pretty amazing,” she explains. “I love the fact that we don’t let a person’s financial needs be a deterrent to their sight. Our gratis tissue program is really incredible.” Melissa’s Aunt passed away two weeks into her first job as an eye technician. She was an organ donor. This really brought things full circle for her, and made the work that she does very personal and real.

One of Melissa’s favorite events at the Eye Bank is the annual Recipient Luncheon. “It’s so impactful having everyone together whose lives have been changed by the work we do. And all the kids who come are adorable!”

When Melissa is not busy working and attending Eye Bank events, you can find her doing anything Broadway, Disney, or Harry Potter related. She also loves rooting on her Flyers, singing in her church choral group, and spending time with family.

Thank you for all you do for us Melissa!

For our next Favorite Friend Friday, we would like to introduce you to Michael and Kathleen Cruz. We first connected with Mr. Cruz when he reached out to his donor families with a letter of gratitude. Then, a few weeks ago the Cruzes came across Carly’s transplant story that was shared. Michael told us, “as a recipient I can tell you first hand that I am overwhelmed with gratitude to my donor’s family. I have been blessed with gifts from two great families. I can’t thank them enough for my sight. I can now see my garden, the flowers in my yard. I am truly grateful.” And we knew we had to learn more. This is Michael Cruz’s story, as told by his wife Kathleen:

Our story started around 4 years ago. Michael went in for his year eye exam. Our regular doctor detected something wrong with the cornea in both of his eyes, and referred us to a specialist. Lots of tests and visits later, things just kept getting worse. One day we were going down the shore when Michael said he had clouds in his eyes. Of course he did not tell me this until later.

My husband just retired from his role as a shipping supervisor for a glass company for 41 years. When his eye problems began, it was especially hard since most of his work was on the computer.

We made another appointment with the specialist, and were sent to Wills Eye. Immediately after this appointment, Michael was scheduled for cornea transplant surgery on his worse eye. We were scared, to say the least.

His first surgery was performed last November. It was an extremely long recovery. There was a lot of lying down, a lot of doing nothing, a lot of drops, and weekly appointments.

His second surgery was this past April, which was sooner than planned, but his condition was worsening. We felt much better this time, because we knew what to expect.

My husband loves his yard, his garden and flowers, his television, and all things nature. If he lost his ability to enjoy these things, it would have been terrible. I am the designer, and Michael makes things happen. We are a good team. I love to cook and bake, and now Michael is getting into baking too.

He is such a wonderful person who is always ready to help those in need. The loss of his sight would have been life changing for everyone. We are truly so blessed to have such wonderful doctors and donor families. We have learned so much through all of this. It is a miracle. Bless everyone involved. They all have given us a new and beautiful life.

For our Second Installment of Favorite Friend Friday, we would like to introduce you to Board Member, PDG David E. Jones. Dave is the physical embodiment of everything the Lions Club stands for, and we are so lucky to have him as a part of our team.

Dave became a Lion in 1971; it will be 49 years in February. Despite relocating with his wife Sandy post retirement, he has remained a member of his original club, 22-D New Castle Hundred Lions Club for all these years. The goal he says, is to make it to the celebratory 50 year milestone there, and beyond. “It was my father-in-law,” Dave recounts “who initially asked me to become a member of the Lions Club. It was a natural fit,” he explains, as he was a member of his college’s service-based fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega. “That experience in college is what turned me into the service-oriented person I am today.”

In 1984 Dave became District Governor, and in 1995, almost 20 years ago, Dave took his seat as a Board Member of Lions Eye Bank of Delaware Valley. Being a Lion is all about leading by example, building relationships and improving the world through kindness, and Dave does just that and then some. When asked about his motivation behind dedicating so much of his life to serving LEBDV’s mission he answered: “seeing firsthand the impact of providing someone with the gift of sight, that’s what this whole organization is founded on. Providing a service that is so beneficial to people. Giving someone their vision back, it’s incredible.”

In recent years Board Members have become even more involved with LEBDV’s events, and Dave is so thankful for this. He recalls attending his first Cornea Recipient Luncheon this past year and describes it as awe-inspiring. “Sitting down to have lunch and getting to talk with the family of a donor, and then getting a chance to meet with a recipient family, it’s really unbelievable.”

Continuing on the topic of getting to see the impact he has made firsthand, since moving to the Southern Delaware Area, Dave has teamed up with a group of Lions who build wheel chair ramps and accessible steps for handicap members of the community. “Just last week” he says, “we built a wide set of steps for a woman with her walker so she could easily go in and out of her house. When she opened the door, you could see the tears in her eyes when she realized that she is now able to get out of the house on her own.”

When Dave is not busy helping his community, he is spending time with his wife, Sandy, their 3 kids, 3 grandchildren, and 2 great grandchildren!

This is just a small sampling of all the amazing things Dave Jones has done during his time as a Lion and Board Member. Congratulations on celebrating almost 50 years Dave, we cannot wait to see what else you do!

Favorite Friend Friday is a new segment that will highlight the stories of cornea recipients. For our first story we would like to introduce Carly, both a recipient and stellar intern at LEBDV. We were lucky to have Carly with us this summer, and are very sad to see her go. Here is Carly’s story:

Early in the morning on September 14th, 2015, Carly woke up with a headache and light sensitivity in her eyes. After deciding to wear glasses instead of putting contacts in, she took the bus to school and tried to ignore the pain. But it became too much, and only about 30 minutes after arriving at school, Carly was at the nurse’s office being sent home. After going to urgent care later that night and being diagnosed with a corneal abrasion, she thought she would be back at school within the next week. However, after her ophthalmologist put a patch on her eye, it ulcerated and became an infection that left her blind in her right eye.

Carly was sent to Scheie where she met Dr. Wu, and eventually Dr. Orlin, her current ophthalmologist. Carly missed about six weeks of school for constant doctor appointments and hourly eye drops, and was home-schooled by two different teachers so she wouldn’t fall behind. After the infection was completely healed in January 2016, life went back to normal, or as normal as it could be with a scar over her right eye affecting her vision. Then, in February 2017, Carly was given the option of getting a transplant. After some deliberation, the next month on March 15th, 2017, Dr. Orlin performed a corneal transplant on Carly.

 “The next morning when they took the patch off, my eye was the clearest it had been in two years” Carly said. “It was an amazing feeling to be able to see clearly again.”

Now fitted with a scleral lens 2 ½ years after transplant, Carly said there is nothing that she can’t do.

“I can wear any pair of sunglasses again, which is such a small thing to be excited about but I really am,” Carly said. “The little victories that I have won back after having my transplant make all the eye drops and the loose stitches worth it.”

Now, Carly is a junior at Saint Joseph’s University, where she studies International Relations and English. Currently working as a summer intern at Lions Eye Bank of Delaware Valley, Carly wants to stress the importance of signing up on the donor registry, and the impact that being an eye, tissue and organ donor can have.

“One person can save eight lives and benefit so many more, which is an amazing thing,” Carly said. “It is one of the most difficult decisions to make, but the impact is felt by recipients every single day.”

Join Lions Eye Bank of Delaware Valley’s Gift of Sight Awareness Day at Citizens Bank Park as the Phillies take on the Boston Red Sox on Sunday, September 15th. The game begins at 1:05 pm. Click here to purchase tickets or become a Game Day Sponsor!

LEBDV is kicking off the big game with a tailgate in Lot K! Beginning at 11:30, we invite you for games, food and soft beverages as we celebrate PHUN and PHILANTHROPY!

Wear your PHAVORITE Eye Bank t-shirt! Don’t own one? No problem! Email Jerilyn Giardina at jerilyn@lebdv.org to request a shirt.

***Tickets will be mailed to the address you provide prior to the game.***

Can’t wait to see you there!

Lions Eye Bank of Delaware Valley (LEBDV) is pleased to announce the appointment of Gregory Dorn, CEBT, as the Eye Bank’s new Technical Director. Greg will succeed Robert Lytle, who is retiring after an incredible 31-year career with LEBDV.

Greg is a highly qualified longtime member of the LEBDV team with more than 16 years of eye banking experience. He started working at LEBDV in 2006 as a Certified Eye Bank Technician. In this role, which he held until June 2017, Greg acted as Medical Director Designee, Lead Technical Trainer, and principal investigator in the Cornea Preservation Time Study (CPTS) clinical trial. In June 2017, Greg was named Technical Manager. In this position, Greg was instrumental in facilitating graft tissue donations for the first cornea transplants performed in Rwanda and Burundi.

In addition to his experience as Technical Manager, Greg is highly proficient in Descemet Stripping Automated Endothelial Keratoplasty (DSAEK) tissue processing, and he is trained in Descemet Membrane Endothelial Keratoplasty (DMEK) tissue processing.

Please join us in welcoming Greg as Technical Director and supporting our mission to restore sight through cornea transplantation in the Delaware Valley and beyond.

Join us for the 25th Annual Gift of Sight Charity Golf Classic!

Proceeds from this event directly benefit community members who cannot afford a cornea transplant. With your gift, we will continue to provide hope and quality care for those in need.

Join us with your foursome for this fun-filled day of fellowship, golfing and a chance to take home some great prizes from our silent and raffle auctions. Invite non-golfers to join you for dinner! Click here for information and to sign up!

Click here for information and to sign up!

For more than 60 years, Lions Eye Bank of Delaware Valley (LEBDV) has been committed to ensuring everyone can enjoy the best eyesight possible, regardless of their ability to pay. Founded by Lions Clubs, and inspired by Helen Keller’s appeal to embrace sight restoration, LEBDV has coordinated more than 45,000 cornea transplant surgeries since its founding in 1957.

Growing numbers of men, women, and children cannot afford the expenses associated with corneal transplantation. LEBDV’s medical partners—regional hospital-based facilities and top-ranked ophthalmologists—turn to us to help their patients who need their sight restored. Over the last three years, LEBDV has provided 207 gratis corneas to our medical partners who have patients in financial need. Along with financial donations from you, this helps to ensure that sight becomes a reality for people in our community.

Assistance requests continue to increase each year, so it is crucial that we replenish these funds. Please consider making a gift to Lions Eye Bank of Delaware Valley, a 501(c)(3) charity. There are numerous ways to give, and every gift—regardless of size—will help change the life of someone who would otherwise live in darkness. With your help, LEBDV can continue to give the Gift of Sight to families in the Delaware Valley and beyond.

Please join us in the fight for sight. Donate today to help someone see tomorrow. To make a donation, please visit our Give Now page where you can learn about the many ways you can support Lions Eye Bank of Delaware Valley.

Jim Quirk
President & Chief Executive Officer

Thursday, September 12, 2019

For this week’s Favorite Friend Friday we would like to present to you one of LEBDV’s very own, Melissa Williams. Melissa has been with LEBDV for four years this month (Happy Anniversary!) “It’s very easy to remember my start date,” she says, “because it was the same time the Pope came to town!” Melissa is our Manager of Compliance and Regulatory Affairs. A crucial part of her job is double and triple checking all of the donor information to make sure the tissue that has been distributed is suitable.

Prior to joining LEBDV Melissa worked at a different Lions Eye Bank in Pennsylvania. During her time at this Eye Bank Melissa tried out a lot of different roles. “Recovery Specialist, Lab Tech, Distribution Coordinator, you name it, I did it” she recalls. With a degree in Neuroscience and an EMT background, starting out as an eye technician was a natural first step for her.

When asked about how she wound up working here for Lions Eye Bank of Delaware Valley, she recounts how her job as a Distribution Coordinator put her in touch regularly with us. “I would call up LEBDV and talk to Laurice, the tech secretary to see if they needed any cornea tissue that day. She was always so sweet to me on the phone, and when I found out there was an opening in the QA department, it just made sense.”

The driving force behind Melissa and her work is LEBDV’s mission of sight restoration. “The fact that we have a hand in helping people restore their lives by restoring their vision is pretty amazing,” she explains. “I love the fact that we don’t let a person’s financial needs be a deterrent to their sight. Our gratis tissue program is really incredible.” Melissa’s Aunt passed away two weeks into her first job as an eye technician. She was an organ donor. This really brought things full circle for her, and made the work that she does very personal and real.

One of Melissa’s favorite events at the Eye Bank is the annual Recipient Luncheon. “It’s so impactful having everyone together whose lives have been changed by the work we do. And all the kids who come are adorable!”

When Melissa is not busy working and attending Eye Bank events, you can find her doing anything Broadway, Disney, or Harry Potter related. She also loves rooting on her Flyers, singing in her church choral group, and spending time with family.

Thank you for all you do for us Melissa!

Friday, September 06, 2019

For our next Favorite Friend Friday, we would like to introduce you to Michael and Kathleen Cruz. We first connected with Mr. Cruz when he reached out to his donor families with a letter of gratitude. Then, a few weeks ago the Cruzes came across Carly’s transplant story that was shared. Michael told us, “as a recipient I can tell you first hand that I am overwhelmed with gratitude to my donor’s family. I have been blessed with gifts from two great families. I can’t thank them enough for my sight. I can now see my garden, the flowers in my yard. I am truly grateful.” And we knew we had to learn more. This is Michael Cruz’s story, as told by his wife Kathleen:

Our story started around 4 years ago. Michael went in for his year eye exam. Our regular doctor detected something wrong with the cornea in both of his eyes, and referred us to a specialist. Lots of tests and visits later, things just kept getting worse. One day we were going down the shore when Michael said he had clouds in his eyes. Of course he did not tell me this until later.

My husband just retired from his role as a shipping supervisor for a glass company for 41 years. When his eye problems began, it was especially hard since most of his work was on the computer.

We made another appointment with the specialist, and were sent to Wills Eye. Immediately after this appointment, Michael was scheduled for cornea transplant surgery on his worse eye. We were scared, to say the least.

His first surgery was performed last November. It was an extremely long recovery. There was a lot of lying down, a lot of doing nothing, a lot of drops, and weekly appointments.

His second surgery was this past April, which was sooner than planned, but his condition was worsening. We felt much better this time, because we knew what to expect.

My husband loves his yard, his garden and flowers, his television, and all things nature. If he lost his ability to enjoy these things, it would have been terrible. I am the designer, and Michael makes things happen. We are a good team. I love to cook and bake, and now Michael is getting into baking too.

He is such a wonderful person who is always ready to help those in need. The loss of his sight would have been life changing for everyone. We are truly so blessed to have such wonderful doctors and donor families. We have learned so much through all of this. It is a miracle. Bless everyone involved. They all have given us a new and beautiful life.

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Monday, August 12th, 2019