Staff Member Gains New Insight Into the Gift of Donation

Staff Member Gains New Insight Into the Gift of Donation

Donor hero, Robert, in his chef coat

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.

Eye Donation Month 2020

A Community of Compassion

Celebrating the community present in giving the gift of sight to others during Eye Donation Month 2020.

Eye Donation Month | November 2020

Join Saving Sight in celebrating the gift of sight and raising awareness about corneal donation and transplantation during Eye Donation Month in November. This annual observance, created by the Eye Bank Association of America, serves as an opportunity for eye banks, partners, and communities to commemorate the lives of individuals who have given vision to others through eye donation. The 2020 Eye Donation Month theme, “A Community of Compassion,” highlights the many individuals who work together to make restored vision through transplantation possible. 

Honoring the Gift of Eye Donation

In 2019, 68,759 individuals in the U.S. became eye donors, providing hope and sight to others in need of restored vision. At Saving Sight alone, eye donors help to give the of sight to 8 individuals each day. Scot, pictured to the left, is one of the many heroes who have given sight to others living in the darkness of corneal blindness.

You Can Help This November!

One of the many ways that you can support Saving Sight’s mission to change lives by saving sight is to help us raise awareness for the need for eye donation and help get others to join the organ and tissue donor registry! Whether it’s making a goal to get a group of friends to register online, or sharing a story on social media about the life-changing gift of eye donation, Saving Sight has got you covered with resources. 

Follow Saving Sight on Facebook at @WeSaveSight for stories to share all month long. And, when you’re on Facebook be sure to check out the Eye Bank Association of America’s profile picture frame commemorating Eye Donation Month. To access the profile picture frame just log into your personal Facebook account, click your profile picture and select “update profile picture” and then “add frame.” If you search for Eye Donation Month, you’ll find a special frame created just for November! Stay tuned to our social media feeds all month long for other extras like stickers and camera effects and how to use them!

Finally, please make sure that you are directing individuals to registerme.org as a call to action for them to sign up on the eye, organ and tissue donor registry! Their selfless decision may someday give others both life-changing and life-saving gifts.

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Staff Member Gains New Insight Into the Gift of Donation

“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...

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Support the Mission

You can help us our quest to educate others about the life-changing gift of eye donation by purchasing our 2020 Eye Donation Month merchandise. Each image features the words of  donor families and transplant recipients about how eye donation has provided hope and healing in their lives.