The need for a corneal transplant can occur at any age, for a number of reasons. For Kelsie of Kansas it happened in the prime of her young life – just as she was entering her teen years.
Kelsie, an active volleyball and soccer player, began experiencing problems in her eye. After visiting five doctors, she was finally diagnosed with a parasitic amoeba, contracted from contaminated water, such as from a pond of a hot tub. To treat the condition, Kelsie had to take eye drops every hour of the day, but even that didn’t cure the problem.
Said Kelsie, “My condition kept getting worse. It turned into a white blister on my eye, and I could barely see through it. It made playing sports a nightmare.”
Kelsie underwent a sight-saving corneal transplant in to rescue her diminishing vision. Although her recovery is still ongoing, Kelsie was able to get up and about within three days of surgery. Today, as a high school student, Kelsie is back on the playing field – but this time she returns with clear vision. “Now my eyesight is almost normal with a contact on, and playing sports is fun like it used to be. I don’t get looked at weird when people are talking to me, and I don’t have pain anymore. Because of my donor, I can finally live my life how I want, without anything bothering me.”
Kelsie and her family are grateful to her donor family for their generosity in a time of despair. To thank them for their donation, Kelsie, like many Saving Sight cornea recipients, wrote a heartfelt letter to the family.
Kelsie’s mother, Jodie, was especially touched by her daughter’s letter, “Honestly, the worst day of the entire ordeal was the day the nurse was explaining where the donor cornea would come from. It led to some revealing answers for Kelsie – that her donor needed to be near her age. It was very difficult for her to hear that, really for all of us, and I think that’s the day she decided that she wanted to show her appreciation for the generosity of this family that didn’t know her, didn’t know us, but was truly giving her back her life as she knew it.”
Together, Jodie and Kelsie encourage Kansas residents to join the state’s donor registry. “Registering as a donor is the single most selfless thing a person can do,” remarked Jodie. “You can’t imagine the changes and opportunities you can make for someone else in need. I have always been a donor, but it takes on a whole new meaning when someone you love is a recipient.”