Wichita, Kan. (June 1, 2021) – Two Kansas-based eye banks have partnered, increasing their impact to save sight in communities throughout the state and beyond. As of June 1, Saving Sight and the Kansas Eye Bank & Cornea Research Center, Inc. have integrated operations and now operate a Wichita location as Kansas Eye Bank, a division of Saving Sight.
This partnership brings together two nonprofit organizations with a rich history of serving the community, ocular transplant physicians, vision researchers, and area hospitals. The two organizations have a shared mission to restore vision to individuals needing a corneal transplant while also fulfilling the wishes of Kansans to become eye tissue donors upon passing.
“We’re excited about what this new partnership means in providing sight to even more people across Kansas, the Midwest, and beyond,” said Tony Bavuso, CEO of Saving Sight.
Saving Sight provides donated corneal tissue for transplant, restoring sight to approximately 8 individuals each day. The addition of the Kansas Eye Bank’s Wichita facility to the Saving Sight system will add new donor hospitals to its network, setting the stage to increase the number of tissues the nonprofit provides to physicians for transplantation. Additionally, the new partnership will allow Saving Sight to expand its efforts in supporting the choice of eye donors and their families to leave a legacy through eye tissue donation.
Saving Sight currently operates four other facilities apart from its headquarters in Kansas City, Mo., including locations in St. Louis, Columbia, Mo., Springfield, Mo., and Springfield, Ill.
About Saving Sight
Saving Sight is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a mission to change lives by saving sight. Founded in 1960, Saving Sight has grown to become one of the nation’s leading eye banks and is focused on providing innovative solutions to its clinical partners. Headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., Saving Sight facilitates eye donation in Missouri, Kansas, and Illinois, impacting the lives of those both near and far through transplantation.
Joseph Tauber, MD, presented on the use of serum tears in March
On Wednesday, March 3, ophthalmologist and Saving Sight Medical Director, Joseph Tauber, MD, presented on using serum tears therapy in ocular surface disease. The webinar was hosted by Vital Tears, an organization that offers autologous serum tears to eye care professionals and their patients throughout the nation. Saving Sight is a co-founder of Vital Tears, and processes all orders for the serum tears in its laboratory.
Dr. Tauber has an in-depth understanding of the use of serum tears in patients with ocular surface disease, as he was an early adopter of using Vital Tears in his practice. During the webinar Dr. Tauber shared insights into how serum tears fit into a treatment plan for dry eye disease, as well how Vital Tears has simplified the process for patients and physicians.
In addition to serving as Saving Sight’s medical director, Dr. Tauber is a recognized authority in the field of ocular surface diseases, including dry eye. Avidly involved in research for almost three decades, Dr. Tauber has been a principal investigator in over 125 research studies of high-risk corneal transplantation, inflammation and allergic eye diseases, corneal infectious diseases and numerous studies related to dry eye syndrome.
If you’re interested in learning more about the innovative approach that Vital Tears is taking in partnership with Saving Sight to restore sight, visit www.vitaltears.org.
Kansas City artist, Gabriella Mountain, was most well known for her larger-than-life abstract sculptures, mosaics, and stained-glass pieces. As an artist, she was diverse in her craft, creating commissioned works throughout the Kansas City area, including the old Main Library’s mosaic floor at 12th and McGee and the stained-glass windows at the Whiteman Air Force base chapel. Gabriella lived a remarkable and storied life, beginning in Hungary in 1918. After fleeing from war-torn Europe at the end of World War II, she came to America and started her life and career as an artist in the City area.
Gabriella Mountain, via Dignity Memorial
Dragons repousse door, via KCStudio
While she was a well-established and awarded artist, Gabriella’s struggle with vision loss was lesser-known. After suffering from Fuchs’ Corneal Dystrophy for years, Gabriella received a sight-restoring corneal transplant surgery in March of 2013. While she was 95 years old, the transplant improved her vision, allowing her to continue creating beautiful works of art. In her later years, Gabriella transitioned from creating metal sculptures to abstract textile and fiber art.
After a long and beautiful life, Gabriella passed away in May 2020 at the age of 102. In gratitude for the gift of sight, she left a gift to Saving Sight to continue our work restoring sight to others. We remember Gabriella in memoriam for her vision as an artist and her vision to serve others by supporting Saving Sight.
If you are interested in making a gift to change lives by Saving Sight, please visit saving-sight.org/give or reach out to our communications team to discuss leaving your legacy with a planned gift.
Robert was a professional chef and at his best self when he was in the kitchen.
“My dad was the biggest dork,” Abby recalls. “He was always the one to make somebody laugh.”
Robert was one-of-a-kind, with a dark sense of humor and a passion for culinary arts and cooking. He worked as a professional chef and was his best self in the kitchen. While Robert’s journey in life wasn’t easy, Abby remembers one-on-one time cooking with her dad in the kitchen and, most of all, feeling that “… I never didn’t know love.”
On November 20, 2014, Robert died unexpectedly from cardiac arrest due to an overdose. Abby was only 19 at the time and had just started college a few months earlier. While much of the time shortly after his death was wrought with the pain of sudden loss, she distinctly remembers the conversation around his tissue donation. For years, Abby felt a powerful sense that her father had a message for her, and even had a vivid dream about him where he gave his heart to her.
Fast-forward six years, and Abby had accepted a job role in Saving Sight’s Human Resources department. As she was exposed to the eye bank’s sight-saving mission and heard stories from transplant recipients and donor families, Abby’s curiosity about her father’s donation grew.
“Being here, I wanted to know if my dad was able to impact somebody’s life,” says Abby. “It was definitely a full-circle moment.”
This fall, Abby connected with the Aftercare team at SightLife, the local eye bank in Washington state that helped facilitate Robert’s gift of eye donation in 2014. She quickly learned that her father gave the gift of sight to two individuals in Japan. Abby finds special meaning in this, knowing that Robert used to get a lot of his culinary inspirations from Japan, as well as had love for the original Iron Chef show from the 90’s.
Abby also learned from the local organ procurement organization, LifeCenter Northwest, that her father helped 57 people total through eye and tissue donation. Among those people is a 12-year-old girl who needs orthopedic surgery, a 78-year-old who required spinal surgery, and a young girl in Arizona who received a life-saving heart valve.
That’s right. Remember Abby’s dream about her father’s heart? She finds special significance in this now, knowing that his donation was life-saving for a heart tissue recipient.
Today is the 6th anniversary of Robert’s passing and Abby has found a new sense of connection to the gift of donation. Although no easy task for any donor family, she is working on writing a letter to his recipients to share more about who her father was and his legacy. She is also planning for a new tattoo that will pay homage to her father’s love of cooking and his lasting gift through eye and tissue donation.