April| Cheryl Shares Her Brother’s Legacy as a Donor
Listen to Cheryl Share Her Brother's Legacy as a Donor
April is National Donate Life Month, a time to raise awareness about the importance of organ, eye and tissue donation and to honor and celebrate those who have saved lives through the gift of donation. To celebrate Donate Life Month, Cheryl talked with Saving Sight to share her more than 20 year connection to organ donation as a kidney transplant recipient and to share her brother’s legacy first as a living kidney donor and later as an eye donor.
“I’m such an advocate for organ donation. Scot had donated to me and then my friend ended up being a sister-like match for me, which it just seems like such a miracle that she was such a good match for me. Since my transplant, another friend of mine was an altruistic donor to a man that she did not know. And then she inspired another person to be an altruistic donor. Organ donation just really is so soul-stirring. Of course, being a kidney recipient myself I do encourage others to consider donation. There’s nothing greater than knowing one being is willing to lessen the burden of another through organ donation. When I hear organ donation stories, I know there is such good in the world. It gives our family great pride and comfort to know that our tragedy of losing Scot lessens the pain of another’s suffering. It just seems like it’s the ultimate act of humanity,” says Cheryl.
March | A Former Executive Director’s Retrospective
For 35 years, Dr. Ron Walkenbach served as Executive Director at Saving Sight. During his tenure in eye banking, Walkenbach saw many changes in eye, organ and tissue donation, including the public’s perspective on donation.
“The biggest change I saw by far was the attitude of the public on eye donation,” said Walkenbach, reflecting upon his career. “By the time I left in 2014, most people thought it [eye donation] was a humanitarian thing to do.”
During his time at Saving Sight, Walkenbach led the organization in its participation in the Eye Bank Association of America’s cornea collaborative. Through this project, Saving Sight helped to identify best practices in providing more tissues for transplant. Additionally, Walkenbach led Saving Sight’s support of the creation of first-person authorization registries in Missouri, Kansas and Illinois.
February | Advancing Technology in Corneal Transplantation
While the first corneal transplant was performed in 1905 by Dr. Eduard Zirm in the Czech Republic, it wasn’t until the mid-twentieth century that our modern system of eye banking developed in the U.S. Since then, there have been many advances in the field of corneal transplantation. A surgical procedure that required a hospital stay decades ago is now an outpatient procedure, requiring fewer stitches and boasting a quicker recovery time.
Throughout its 60-year history, Saving Sight has worked to meet the changing needs of the ophthalmologists, and their patients as transplant surgery techniques have advanced. Today, Saving Sight prepares donor tissue for a variety of partial-thickness lamellar transplants, meeting the needs of both physicians and our community. Listen to one of Saving Sight’s Medical Directors, Dr. Gregg Berdy, give some historical context to eye banking from a transplant surgeon’s perspective.
January | A Mission Begins in Mid-Missouri
For six decades, Saving Sight has been a mainstay in the Columbia, Mo., community. At the same time, we’ve grown to serve many families and recipients throughout our region, nationally and internationally. This winter, we were proud to work with local Missouri Journalism School student, Maddy Montoya, to document the stories of two mid-Missouri individuals whose lives have been touched by Saving Sight’s mission.
For more about our history, check out our About Us page.