For years, Judy of Manhattan, Kan. struggled with vision loss due to Fuchs’ dystrophy, a degenerative disease of the cornea. As the condition progressed, she had difficulties reading a phone book or seeing the license plate on the car in front of her.
By the time her eyesight declined to 20/70, her surgeon encouraged her to proceed with a cornea transplant using donated tissue to save her vision, but she was still hesitant.However, after talking with a family friend whose son had been an organ donor, she began to reconsider.
“In visiting with his mother several times, she talked about how good it made her feel to know others had been helped even in the time of their loss.”
Judy decided to accept the gifts of two generous donor families who made the heartfelt decision to let their loved ones live on through others. In June 2011, she underwent a cornea transplant on her left eye and then again in March 2012 on her right eye. Today, Judy is seeing 20/25 with or without glasses.
“In a sense I didn’t realize how bad my sight had been until after my transplants. Some days my sight is so good, it’s unbelievable. I still have a bit of astigmatism, but I can see my grandson playing ball. I can follow college basketball and helicopters flew over my home the other day, and for the first time, I could really see them in detail.”
Judy’s transplants have allowed her to continue working part-time as a clerical assistant at a church and enjoying her favorite hobbies, most significantly her role as director of Toys for Manhattan. Each year, this community-wide volunteer program collects toys to distribute to emergency shelters, crisis centers, and individual families so that everyone can have a happy holiday season. In fact, under Judy’s direction, more than 500 families were helped this past year.
Because of her donor families’ generous decisions, Judy is able to continue paying it forward in her community. “They’ve very precious people. I know it had to have been hard for them, but to make that commitment to carry on is miraculous.”