Neal’s Restored Vision Provides New Clarity

Neal’s Restored Vision Provides New Clarity

Neal’s life took a transformative turn in April 2022 when he underwent a corneal transplant, bringing newfound hope and clarity to his world. Neal, a resident of Kansas City, suffered from Fuchs Dystrophy, a progressive eye condition that clouded his vision and limited his ability to perform daily tasks. However, the transplant changed everything.

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.

Restored Vision Gives Funeral Home Director New View

Restored Vision Gives Funeral Home Director New View

As a funeral director, Diantha worked closely with the eye donation process for many years in her family’s funeral home. She often spoke with families whose loved ones had chosen to give the gift of sight, and therefore was very familiar with Saving Sight and its mission. As a proponent of donation, she’d often discussed the donation process with individuals when pre-planning a funeral. Diantha never guessed that years later, she’d benefit from the gifts of two eye donors.

Diantha, in the middle, pictured with her mother and husband.

During a regular eye exam in April 2021, she learned that she would need cataract surgery and had a hereditary eye disease called Fuchs’ dystrophy. For patients with Fuchs’, fluid builds up in the cornea, causing it to swell and thicken. Over time, this can lead to corneal blindness, discomfort, and pain. Diantha’s eye doctor informed her that the disease would likely progress and scheduled her to come back in a year.

Over the next year, her vision continued to degrade to the point where she could barely read and could no longer drive at night.

“The scariest incident I had was while driving alone from Atlanta, GA, to St. Louis,” Diantha recounts. “I miscalculated my time and the weather, and it was starting to get dark before I reached my niece’s hotel room in St. Louis. I literally could barely see road signs, and the car lights were blinding me, so I pulled off the nearest exit, pulled into a convenience store, and called my niece to come get me. I knew it was time to do something.”

In August 2022, Diantha underwent two consecutive corneal transplant surgeries to restore her vision. Both surgeries were successful in restoring her sight. Today, Diantha has resumed her normal day-to-day activities, including driving, reading, and enjoying the beauty in nature that had become a blur. The gifts that two cornea donors and their families gave are precious to her.

“Helping others is very important in life and very rewarding,” said Diantha. “Donation is such a gift to receive, but just as important, the donor family receives the gift of knowing someone has been helped through their donation.”

A Partnership to Save Sight in Nigeria

Since 1991, Dr. Ukeme Umana of Marion Eye Center has made annual humanitarian trips to Nigeria, providing much-needed eye care, and performing sight-saving surgeries. Most recently, Dr. Umana traveled to Nigeria in October 2022. During this trip, he saw many patients who normally would not have access to eye care and was able to perform cataract surgeries and several corneal transplants.

“In 2013, I started offering corneal transplants in addition to other surgeries,” recounts Dr. Umana. “People come from all over the country because there is no eye bank in Nigeria.”

This 5-year-old patient had scarring on his cornea and received a transplant to restore his sight.

Since that time, there has been a steady need for his services. Patients range in age and travel far to receive the sought-after care that Dr. Umana and the other volunteer doctors provide. During this most recent trip, Dr. Umana was able to help restore sight to a 7-year-old who needed cataract surgery and saw a variety of cases that resulted from infection and limited access to vision care.

For years, Saving Sight has provided Dr. Umana with tissue for his mission work, and during this most recent mission trip was the sole source of tissue. Dr. Umana’s work to reach underserved areas of the world like Nigeria extends Saving Sight’s mission beyond our local service area.

During his trips abroad, Dr. Umana also focuses on training local physicians as there is a shortage of doctors specializing in corneal transplantation. While time is short and the need is great, every opportunity to teach others is valuable and precious.

Dr. Umana expects that he will return to Nigeria again in the spring of 2023.

Honoring the Legacy of Ophthalmic Visionary Dr. Bruce Grene

In October, the Wichita community said farewell to a friend and visionary in eye care. Dr. Bruce Grene, the founder of Wichita-based Grene Vision Group, was also instrumental in establishing the Wichita Eye Foundation in 1986. With Dr. Grene’s support, the Eye Foundation would grow to eventually become the Kansas Eye Bank and Cornea Research Center, Inc., providing corneal tissue for transplant in Kansas and beyond. In 2021, the Wichita eye bank’s impact on local Kansas communities multiplied as it became a division of Saving Sight.

Dr. Bruce Grene

Dr. Bruce Grene was instrumental in establishing the Kansas Eye Bank.

Dr. Grene’s legacy can be seen in many facets of the practice of ophthalmology. His passion for ocular research and innovation led him to create Celluvisc, a worldwide product for treating surface eye disease and injury. Dr. Grene entrusted the royalties from the sale of Celluvisc to the Wichita Eye Foundation, helping to fund the Kansas Eye Bank’s growth and work in restoring sight.

In his creation of Grene Vision Group, Dr. Grene was ahead of his time in providing the best in patient care. He had the wisdom and foresight to create an integrated group of ophthalmology, optometry, and optical professionals working together to serve the community. Most importantly, Dr. Grene embodied a passion for serving patients.

“Bruce and I worked together for over two decades, and he was perhaps as charismatic and captivating of a person as I’d ever met,” said Dr. Dasa Gangadhar, ophthalmologist and original partner at Grene Vision Group. “The temperature in the room would go up when he walked in. He was loving, he was gentle, and he was a visionary.”

Dr. Grene is survived by his loving family and wife, Mary, who stood by his side during a difficult battle with Parkinson’s disease. He is also survived by countless patients who benefited from his work and many collaborators and coworkers who called him a friend. It’s in the same spirit of service that Saving Sight works to carry forth Dr. Grene’s vision of restoring sight.

To learn more about our history and the key individuals like Dr. Grene, who have worked to make restored vision a reality for others, visit www.saving-sight.org/about.

Eye Donation Month

A New View

Celebrating restored vision and life honored through the gift of eye donation!

Eye Donation Month | November 2023

Each year, Saving Sight joins the eye banking community in observing Eye Donation Month in November. Throughout the month, we concentrate our efforts on raising awareness about cornea donation and transplantation, honoring eye donors’ gifts, celebrating the work of our community partners in facilitating the git, and educating others on how to join the organ and tissue donor registry.

Join us this November in celebrating the new view that the gift of eye donation gives to both recipients and donor families.

Celebrating Champions of Sight!

This November, our team will recognize external partners who exhibit extraordinary dedication in making eye donation possible. Learn more about our Champion of Sight Award program, and how we plan to celebrate the community of individuals who aid in facilitating our sight-saving work.

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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Living Life With a New View

Jack ‘Hydroplane’ Deloplaine might be best remembered as a Pittsburgh Steeler and a Superbowl champion. But to those who knew him, especially his family, he was much more. His final act of kindness was being a cornea donor.

This is his story, as told by his wife and two sons, brought to you by our partners at the Eye Bank Association of America.

Kathy’s Journey of Restored Sight Through Transplantation

Kathy's journey to restored sight began after her cataract surgery in the fall of 2023. The procedure that she expected would improve her vision did not deliver the results that she was expecting and led to the discovery of underlying vision issues. “After my cataract...
ScottHagerty photo

Transplant Recipient’s Vision Twice Renewed

Scott's journey to restored vision began on a farm in central Kansas when he was 19. After unloading grain from storage bins, Scott noticed that his left eye had swollen shut. Scott eventually found his way to Dr. Bruce Grene in Wichita, Kansas where he was treated...

A Transplant Becomes an Opportunity for Regained Sight

For years, Karie of Kansas City, MO, suffered from reduced vision in her right eye after a bout with shingles while on chemotherapy. She was left with scarring from the shingles on her eye that impacted her vision and resulted in corneal blindness. At first, she was...

Neal’s Restored Vision Provides New Clarity

Neal's life took a transformative turn in April 2022 when he underwent a corneal transplant, bringing newfound hope and clarity to his world. Neal, a resident of Kansas City, suffered from Fuchs Dystrophy, a progressive eye condition that clouded his vision and...

Transplant Recipient Begins 2023 With a New View

“Frankly, I was thinking that there was a good chance that I was going to lose my sight, and it didn’t occur to me to think about a transplant.”

Restored Vision Gives Funeral Home Director New View

As a funeral director, Diantha worked closely with the eye donation process for many years in her family’s funeral home. She often spoke with families whose loved ones had chosen to give the gift of sight, and therefore was very familiar with Saving Sight and its...

Changing Lives Through Sight Restoration in Tanzania

On July 2, 2021, Saving Sight distributed 6 corneal tissues to the  Donor Network of Arizona to be used by one of their surgeons in Tanzania for a mission trip. Dr. LeeSa Jackson joined Dr. Elisante Jackson Muna at the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center to perform a...

Becky’s Legacy

  In Memory of Becky H., 1973-2021 "Becky was a strong advocate for those in need, especially children. She loved genealogy, German food, and her family and friends," says Eric. #LegacyGarden #DonorHero  

Changing Lives Through Sight Restoration in Pakistan

In 2018, Saving Sight began working with Dr. Fawad Zafar. Dr. Zafar is a urologist who lives in Iowa and also coordinates the acquisition of corneal tissue for transplant in Pakistan. “In April 2017, one of my class fellows who was a doctor, but left medical...

Melanie’s Legacy As An Eye Donor

"My mom was extremely devoted to her family, especially her mother, two kids and five grandchildren. She had just gotten her first granddaughter after four boys and was so proud. She was extremely giving, to the point she’d go without so others had. She was an AMAZING...

Support the Mission

You can help us our quest to educate others about the life-changing gift of eye donation by purchasing our 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.