“I wanted to make sure that the transplant would be a success,” said Karie. “I took it very seriously. I didn’t want to take someone’s cornea and have it not work.”
In December 2022, Karie received the gift of a corneal transplant. She recognizes the ultimate gift that was made by a donor had special meaning for her.
“I know that it has to be very hard to lose a family member at all, especially at the holiday,” said Karie. “I would like to do something in this person’s honor. Go somewhere, see something, eat something they liked, or do something they did.”
Post-transplant, Karie’s experienced so many improvements in her sight and quality of life. She is growing closer to driving again and now very infrequently uses a mobility cane for assistance.
“I could see some kinds of shapes and colors, but I could never really figure out what it was,” said Karie. “Now I have peripheral vision again, and they think I may be back to eventually to 20/20 vision.”
Perhaps most importantly, Karie is looking forward to seeing the face of her first-born grandchild this November. Clear vision to see his face and enjoy the sights of a newborn will be priceless for Karie and her family.
In 1960, Saving Sight began restoring sight through charitable vision programs, matching the needs of local communities with a spirit of giving. While our program delivery has changed throughout that history, our legacy of giving continues to grow through our mission partners.
In 2021, Saving Sight’s board of directors established a board-designated quasi-endowment fund to support grants given to charitable organizations with a similar mission. During the first round of funding in 2021, three organizations were invited to apply: KidSight, Mid-South Lions Sight and Hearing Service, Inc., and the ShowMe Eyeglass Recycling Program. Each group received funding from Saving Sight to expand their services and impact in the community.
KidSight, a program with a historical tie to Saving Sight, received the most funding, utilizing a $35,000 gift for general operating support to screen over 39,000 Missouri children for potential vision disorders. Of those children screened, 3,500 were identified to be at risk for problems like amblyopia. As part of their essential work, the KidSight team has established an enhanced follow-up process, helping families seek vision care for children as necessary.
Saving Sight also granted $15,000 in funding to the ShowMe Eyeglass Recycling Program, a nonprofit run by the Lions Clubs of District 26 M-7. This Missouri-based program serves as a collection point for recycled eyeglasses that are then read and sorted for use in medical mission trips worldwide. With grant funding, the group purchased two lensometers to read eyeglass prescriptions, a crucial part of preparing the donated glasses to go abroad. The Lions estimate that with this equipment purchase, they were able to serve 25,000 additional people worldwide.
Finally, Saving Sight granted $10,000 in funding to Mid-South Lions Sight and Hearing Services, a nonprofit out of Tennessee that provides medical services for needy vision-impaired people in our region. With funding from Saving Sight, the organization provided direct care to 16 patients from Missouri for various eye care and surgical costs. Upon reviewing reports from these three organizations, Saving Sight’s board of directors voted to renew grants in June 2023, adding one additional nonprofit to the mix. The following grants were made at the end of this fiscal year:
- KidSight – $43,000
- ShowMe Lions Eyeglass Recycling – $5,000
- Mid-South Lions Sight and Hearing Services – $5,000
- Missouri Lions Eye Mission Program – $7,000
The Business Development Department consists of three members: Patrick Gore, Lynn Forest-Smith, and Kevin Wright. They work collaboratively to develop working relationships with surgeons, analyze business opportunities, conduct market research, and provide training and education to physicians, technicians, and support staff. In addition, they actively engage with university programs to foster strong relationships and participate in industry conferences to stay updated on innovation and best practices.
The team spends time visiting physicians, attending meetings, and conducting research to ensure they are well-prepared for discussions with doctors. Education is also a significant aspect of their work, as they stay informed about advancements in ophthalmology to better support their physician partners. The work of the Business Development Department is crucial to the success of Saving Sight. By serving as effective liaisons between the organization and its external stakeholders, they ensure collaboration and build lasting relationships with surgeons. Their role requires innovation and adaptability to stay relevant and competitive in a constantly changing market
Looking ahead, the department is excited about upcoming projects and events that aim to meet customer needs and further the organization’s mission. One notable project is the development of a Continuing Education (CE) program for nurses and surgery center staff. This online program will provide CE credits and simplify the process for staff to fulfill their educational requirements, elevating Saving Sight to new heights in eye banking.
Overall, the Business Development Department plays a vital role in driving growth and creating opportunities for both Saving Sight and Vital Tears. Through their dedicated efforts, they establish and nurture relationships with surgeons, identify new business avenues, and ensure the organization remains competitive and impactful in the field of cornea donation and transplantation.
Before the surgery, Neal’s vision was gradually deteriorating, making it increasingly challenging for him to carry out his work supporting his local parish. Since the transplant, Neal’s life has been transformed. He can now see with clarity. The transplant has restored not only his vision but also his independence and livelihood.
Neal’s journey is a testament to the power of medical advancements and the generosity of eye donors and their families. The cornea transplant not only restored his sight but also granted him the opportunity to continue doing what he loves.