As a retired pediatrics nurse and two-time cornea transplant recipient, Elaine is familiar with the impact eye, organ and tissue transplantation has on the lives of others.
Elaine has keratoconus, a progressive eye disease that thins the cornea and causes it to become cone-shaped, distorting vision. To help with her worsening vision, Elaine underwent her first cornea transplant in the 1980s. After her transplant, Elaine was given gas permeable contact lenses. These contacts ended up causing corneal abrasions and Elaine discontinued wearing a contact in that eye. “Over the years it had become very scarred to the point my eyelid could not close at night and this caused dryness and discomfort. I also could not see through the scar,” says Elaine. She also had cataract surgery on that eye, which added to her corneal scarring.
Elaine had been told her corneal scarring and vision couldn’t be corrected in that eye. Due to the pain she was experiencing, she and her best friend decided to seek a second opinion. That’s when she discovered optometrist Dr. David Pierce. “I absolutely adore my optometrist, Dr. Pierce. He’s just so caring and referred me to Dr. Daniel Osborn who is an ophthalmologist. They discussed my case and decided they could replace my cornea transplant. Dr. Osborn did a fabulous job!”
Dr. Obsborn performed Elaine’s second corneal transplant on June 16, 2018 and she is healing well. As of February 2019, Elaine’s vision is testing 20/25 in her transplant eye and she hopes to continue getting better once the rest of her stitches are removed.
“The pain I went through previously was just horrible,” says Elaine. “What I’ve been through with the second transplant has been worth it with my eye not drying out at night and fussing with the drops. I’m more comfortable and better now.”
Thanks to her cornea transplant, Elaine, who celebrated her 81st birthday this February, is able to enjoy watching birds outdoors and from her dining room window again. She and her husband HF also are able to keep up with their 5 kids, 12 grandchildren and 30 great-grandchildren now as well.
Connecting through Correspondence
Elaine chose to write to her donor’s family to say thank you for their generosity that made her transplant possible. “The tissue is so priceless to the people who need it. I will be forever thankful to her (Elaine’s eye donor), to her family and to God for my new cornea. When you help someone else the blessings will always be returned to you.”
Sharing Her Story at the Springfield Candlelight Memorial
Saving Sight was honored to co-host a Candlelight Memorial with Mid-America Transplant on Saturday, March 16, 2019. We participate in this event annually to honor eye, organ and tissue donor families. Elaine spoke at the event to share her gratitude for her restored sight as a cornea recipient.