Kansas City, Mo. (March 3, 2014) – Tom, a U.S. Air Force veteran and minister from Independence, Missouri, suffered from Fuchs’ corneal dystrophy, a hereditary disease that causes corneal cells to deteriorate. As the primary earner for his family, Tom’s loss of sight would have had implications not only for himself but also for the family he supports. But thankfully he was diagnosed before he lost his vision entirely, so he received corneal transplants at University of Kansas Hospital in February 2012 and October 2013, which restored his sight and enabled him to return to work until retirement.
Approximately 46,000 Americans will need a cornea transplant this year just like Tom. March is National Eye Donor Month, so Saving Sight is encouraging people to pledge to be eye, organ and tissue donors through the donor registry and to speak with their families about their decision to donate. People can sign up for the donor registry online at DonateLife.net or at the nearest Department of Motor Vehicles office.
Thanks to the generosity of eye donors, their families and supportive hospital staff, Saving Sight was able to provide donated eye tissue for 2,587 corneal transplants in 2013, including Tom. During National Eye Donor Month, Saving Sight honors donors and encourages people to take the opportunity to join in saving sight:
- Learn more about eye donation at www.saving-sight.org/cornea-donation.
- Pledge to be an eye, organ, and tissue donor on the donor registry at DonateLife.net.
- Speak with family and friends about the choice to donate.
- Share the message of donation with others in the community.
According to the Eye Bank Association of America, “over 95 percent of all corneal transplant operations successfully restore the corneal recipient’s vision.”
So eye donors have an incredible impact on the lives of recipients, often relieving pain and reviving independence. In fact, a recent study coordinated by the EBAA found that corneal transplants in the U.S., by enabling people to resume employment and lead healthy lives, offer a total lifetime net benefit of nearly $6 billion. “The EBAA’s study does a great job of illustrating that eye donors not only give the gift of sight to recipients but they also enhance prosperity in our communities,” said Tony Bavuso, chief executive officer of Saving Sight.
“So far, I couldn’t be happier,” Tom said. “I’m grateful to those who made the cornea donation, and I’m thankful to the Almighty that we’re able to do [transplant surgeries] these days.” On behalf of Tom and the other 2,586 people who received the healing gift of sight in 2013, Saving Sight thanks everyone who pledges to be an eye, organ and tissue donor and shares that decision with family this National Eye Donor Month.
Read Tom’s corneal transplantation story.
About Saving Sight
Saving Sight is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a mission to change lives by saving sight. Founded in Columbia, Mo. in 1960, the organization introduced eye donation and the gift of sight to Missouri.