Each school day, first graders in Centralia, Kansas open their books and their minds thanks to one special teacher. As a Reading Recovery teacher, Marsha helps those children who are struggling with reading gain the skills they need to become stronger students.
Yet, until recently, Marsha was struggling with reading herself – only her issue was due to her declining vision.
At age 19, Marsha was diagnosed with Fuchs’ dystrophy, a genetic condition in which the cornea progressively deteriorates. By the time she was in her late thirties, her treatment included a constant regimen of eye drops, ointments and appointments.
The Fuchs’ dystrophy continued to worsen – the thick inner layer of her corneas collected moisture during the night, leaving her vision incredibly cloudy each morning and making both driving and reading extremely difficult.
Finally, in 2008, Marsha underwent a cornea transplant on her left eye, and in 2012, on her right eye. Although she faced complications with her initial transplant, today her vision is “amazing.” She no longer faces vision cloudiness every morning of her life and can now participate in her favorite activities, including exercising, traveling to see her grandchildren, and reading, with crystal clear vision.
Said Marsha, “I think of my donor often when I realize I’m reading the morning paper with no problems or looking up a phone number. I live in a little town, so traveling to the city on a weekend and being able to go early and face the sunlight is such a blessing. There’s such a feeling of independence with this gift.”
Marsha’s transplant also brought a new friend into her life – in Spring 2012, she and her most recent donor’s twin sister began corresponding regularly about their experiences, giving Marsha more insights into the woman who gave her the gift of sight.
In addition, the correspondence letters touched yet another person when Marsha shared them with a colleague whose husband had been an organ donor. The two coworkers were able to see first-hand both sides of the donation journey and the impact it has on some many people’s lives.