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Born Blind, Child Begins First Day of Kindergarten with New Vision

Five-year-old Peyton Barkalow will soon step onto his school bus and walk through the doors of William H. Ross School in Margate, New Jersey for his first day of kindergarten on Tuesday, September 6. What is an already emotional milestone for most parents, means all the more to Peyton and his family, for Peyton was diagnosed as legally blind at just one day old.

“For me, it is bittersweet,” says Tracey, Peyton’s mother on her son’s firsrt day of school.

Peyton was diagnosed with a rare eye condition called Bi-Lateral Peters’ anomaly. Peyton had his first of multiple surgeries at only one month of age, and his first cornea transplant in his right eye at just six months old. Babies born with this condition have central cornea cloudiness which typically requires surgical intervention as soon as medically possible, followed by visual rehabilitation.

At only five years old, Peyton has undergone four cornea transplant surgeries. There is no substitute for human tissue for these transplants; it is dependent upon the selfless gift of donation from one human to another. Lions Eye Bank of Delaware Valley (LEBDV) recovered, processed and ensured the safety of tissue used for each of Peyton’s surgeries. Tissues used for Peyton’s surgeries were provided by LEBDV’s Gratis Tissue Fund. The fund financially supports eligible individuals in need of cornea transplants who may be under-insured.

“This fund demonstrates the LEBDV’s commitment to deliver on our mission to enhance a person’s quality of life by restoring or improving vision to those in need,” says President and CEO Jim Quirk. “Without the generosity of community members who contribute to this fund, assistance for Peyton and others in need would not be possible.”

Peyton’s parents are grateful to those who have helped their son along the way, including teachers, caseworkers, donors and LEBDV.
“Our son was born blind. Because of very generous individuals who chose to say yes to donation, Peyton was given a second chance of sight, giving him the ability to meet life’s challenges and continue to learn and grow. Peyton is excited for his first day of school and is looking forward to making new friends,” says Jimmy, Peyton’s father.

“Jimmy, the kids and I, along with Peyton’s teachers from last year and Peyton’s caseworker from the Commission of the Blind, have all worked very hard in making sure Peyton is treated like the rest of the kids and pushing him to do his best. Now the time has come and I know I will cry, but they will be tears of joy,” says Tracey.

Lions Eye Bank of Delaware Valley is a nonprofit organization that obtains, medically evaluates and distributes human corneas for cornea transplant, research and education. Since 1957, Lions Eye Bank has provided corneal tissue to more than 40,000 individuals in need of a sight-restoring or sight-improving transplant.

Matching Funds Challenge Allows Eye Bank to Provide Gratis Tissue for Transplant to 19 Individuals

PHILADELPHIA, PA February 16, 2016 – Lions Eye Bank of Delaware Valley (LEBDV) is pleased to announce the Matching Funds Challenge Campaign exceeded its goal of $30,000 from community donors, allowing the Eye Bank to provide gratis tissue to 19 individuals for sight-restoring transplant surgery.

Board of Trustees and very generous supporters, Arthur and Debbie Roedel, Past District Governors from Mercer County, NJ, donated $30,000 to support the match challenge, raising over $60,000 overall.

“We are grateful for the generous contributions and continued support from the community. We have people in our neighborhood who do not have resources to pay for cornea transplantation, the Gratis Tissue Fund makes it possible to provide for those in need,” says Jim Quirk, LEBDV President and CEO.

Requests for financial assistance have doubled since 2012. To date, every request for financial aid has been granted by the Eye Bank. “We believe that everyone should have access to sight,” says Quirk. “Ability to pay should not be a barrier to one’s ability to see.”

Anthony’s mother, Terry, thanks those who supported the Gratis Tissue Fund. “Anthony and family are forever grateful for your life changing gift.” Anthony, who has Down syndrome and resides in Bayville, NJ, has restored vision because of the Gratis Tissue Fund. “There are no words to thank you enough and completely.”

Recipients of the Gratis Tissue Fund come from all walks of life. Forty-two transplants were made possible during the Eye Bank’s 2014-15 fiscal year. The cost associated for making those transplants possible amounted to over $125,000.

Lions Eye Bank of Delaware Valley is a nonprofit organization that obtains, medically evaluates and distributes human corneas for transplant, research and education. Since 1957, Lions Eye Bank has provided corneal tissue to nearly 40,000 individuals in need of a sight-restoring or sight-improving transplant.

LEBDV is one of the nation’s first and Delaware Valley’s only Eye Bank. Its mission is restoration of sight through corneal transplantation. LEBDV is a founding member of the Eye Bank Association of America (www.restoresight.com), the nationally-recognized accrediting organization.

Lions Eye Bank of Delaware Valley is still accepting donations. For more information, visit the website, www.LEBDV.org or call Jerilyn Krawczyk at 215-563-1679.

LEBDV Serves the Community

Lions Eye Bank of Delaware Valley's (LEBDV) President/CEO, Jim Quirk, and staff teamed with Philabundance at the A.T. Buzby farm in Woodstown, NJ. The ambitious group of volunteers harvest over 4,000 lbs. of sweet corn in one morning setting the record for Philabundance's largest gleaning event of the season.

Phila

Gleaning is simply the act of collecting excess fresh produce from local farms. It provides local and fresh produce to individuals across the Delaware Valley facing hunger. In 2014, the Gleanmbitious group of volunteers harvested over 4,000 lbs. of sweet corn in one morning, setting the record for Philabundance's largest gleaning event of the season. 

ing Program harvested over 200,000 lbs. of fresh produce to distribute to Philabundance's network of agencies and community members. 

Philabundance was founded on the belief that no man, woman or child should go hungry. It supports and distributes food to 400 local kitchens, shelters and pantries.

Philabundance is focusing on its agricultural initiative with the Gleaning Program and needs support from volunteers like the Eye Bank for assistance. "Philabundance is always looking for ways to get fresh, nutritious produce into the hands of community members. We are fortunate to be located in an agriculturally rich area of the Delaware Valley. Partnering with farms like A.T. Buzby allows us to obtain much needed produce that would otherwise go to waste," says Nick Giardina, Assistant Manager of Seasonal Initiatives at Philabundance.

Staff was eager to support their community in a different way. "It is easy to become consumed in our day-to-day routines," says President/CEO, Jim Quirk. "Volunteering at Philabundance gave us an opportunity to support a neighboring organization and serving our community."

Lions Eye Bank of Delaware Valley is committed to enhancing a person's quality of life by restoring or improving vision through corneal transplantation, medical research and education.

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