Saving Sight Introduces the 2021-2022 Board of Directors

Saving Sight Introduces the 2021-2022 Board of Directors

[pictured L-R: Pat Martchink passing the gavel to Larry Boettcher; Cassidy Obermark being honored for her board service; the board meeting at the Kansas City C office at the June meeting.]

Kansas City, Mo. (July 1, 2021) – Saving Sight is pleased to welcome four new people to its Board of Directors for the 2021-2022 fiscal year (July 1 – June 30). Welcome Council Chair Lion Bob Noellsch, Vice-Council Chair Lion Devin Struttmann, Lion Mike Sliger, and Wichita community board member Marc Vincent. PDG Lion Scott Sattler remains on the board and switched seats to represent Lions District M-1, Lion Larry Boettcher was re-elected to a second term, as well as community members Jeff Schaeperkoetter and Amy Leslie.

Board members are key to the organization’s success. They actively participate in long-range planning and monitor the organization’s financial health and overall performance. As highly visible members of their communities, the board members also enhance Saving Sight’s public standing by sharing the mission, accomplishments, and goals with Lions clubs, the general public, and other partner organizations. As Lion board members, these individuals also keep their districts informed about Saving Sight.

“We are able to change more lives by saving sight due to our board members engagement, leadership, support and oversight,” said Tony Bavuso, chief executive officer.

In addition to welcoming new members to the board, Saving Sight also expressed gratitude to three individuals who retired from the board of directors on June 1, 2021. We were honored to have PCC George Winkeler, Jr., PDG Roger Tiemann, and Lion Dr. Cassidy Obermark serve on our board and thank them for their valuable service.

At the June Board of Directors meeting, the board elected its 2021-2022 leadership team.

These board members were elected to leadership roles for the new fiscal year:

President: PCC Larry Boettcher, MD-26 M4

Vice President: Lion Pat Martchink, MD-26 M2

Treasurer: Lion Mike Oldelehr, MD-26 M7

Secretary: PDG Scott Sattler, MD-26 M1

At the June board meeting, past president Lion Pat Martchink ceremoniously passed the gavel to newly elected president PCC Larry Boettcher. Pat will serve as vice president for the 2021-2022 fiscal year to ensure a smooth leadership transition.

Practice Eye Safety This Independence Day

Practice Eye Safety This Independence Day

This year, we hope you enjoy a fun and safe Fourth of July with friends and family. While fireworks are a beautiful and time-honored tradition associated with the holiday, it’s important that you take precautions to keep yourself and your loved ones safe.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that there are 9,000 fireworks-related injuries each year in the U.S. Thirty percent of those are eye injuries, and one-fourth of those eye injuries result in blindness. What’s more, children account for the majority of fireworks-injury victims, and for children under 5, sparklers — which burn at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit and can cause third-degree burns — account for one-third of fireworks-related injuries.

For these reasons, the American Academy of Ophthalmology encourages you to follow these recommendations:

  • Never let children play with fireworks of any type.
  • View fireworks from a safe distance: at least 500 feet away, or up to a quarter of a mile for best viewing.
  • Leave the lighting of fireworks to trained professionals.
  • Follow directives given by event ushers and public safety personnel.
  • Respect safety barriers set up to allow pyrotechnicians to do their jobs safely.
  • If you find unexploded fireworks remains, do not touch them. Immediately contact your local fire or police department.
  • If you get an eye injury from fireworks, seek medical help immediately.

If you do decide to shoot off fireworks yourself, be sure to follow all safety precautions, protect your eyes, and keep children a safe distance away. The staff at Saving Sight wishes you a safe and fun-filled Independence Day weekend

New OCT Machine Continues to Bring Innovation to Saving Sight

New OCT Machine Continues to Bring Innovation to Saving Sight

New technology allows Saving Sight to stay on the cutting edge as an innovative eye bank. Saving Sight recently upgraded our lab equipment to a new optical coherence tomography (OCT) microscope. It also allows us to be better stewards of the gift of sight while delivering the highest quality to our partner surgeons.

“The OCT is a big microscope that measures the thickness of the cornea, and we use it to measure our corneas before we start processing for our DSAEK or ALK processing. We also take images after processing so the surgeon can see what the processed tissue actually looks like. It gives us more insight on the quality of the tissue and if it will be suitable for the surgery type we are offering it for. We can be proactive in what we offer to the surgeons,” says Debora Van Klinken-Muntz, Lead Laboratory Technician.

“Using it as an eye bank saves us a lot of time. It also lets us be good stewards of the tissue we receive. I don’t know how we could do eye banking without an OCT machine.”

Saving Sight’s Support of KidSight Screenings

Saving Sight’s Support of KidSight Screenings

Saving Sight continues to partner with KidSight, a Missouri-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides free vision screenings for children. At our June 2021 board meeting, the Saving Sight board voted to donate $35,000 to KidSight to support their work. This brings the total amount Saving Sight has donated to KidSight during the 2020-2021 fiscal year to $65,000.

As an organization with a mission to change lives by saving sight, supporting organizations like KidSight with a similar mission is vital.

The KidSight program was founded in St. Louis, Missouri in 1995 as a part of Saving Sight with a handful of volunteers screening a few hundred children a year. Today, KidSight’s program has grown to screen the vision of more than 67,000 kids throughout Missouri each year with the help of trained staff and volunteers operating across the state. Using a photoscreening device, they quickly and noninvasively screen children ages 6 months to 6 years for common causes of childhood vision loss. KidSight then refers at-risk children to eye doctors for examination, necessary treatment and follow-up to ensure kids get the care they need. KidSight has held its own 501(c)(3) status since August 2016. You can learn more or make a donation to KidSight at www.kid-sight.org.

Changing Lives Through Sight Restoration in Pakistan

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 profession and went into foreign service, was ambassador of Pakistan at Sri Lanka. He was telling me how corneas were being sent from Sri Lanka to Pakistan and other countries. I thought that was a great project and I contacted them,” says Dr. Zafar.

At the time Dr. Zafar didn’t know that U.S. eye banks sent tissue internationally. He did a Google search for ‘cornea tissue for overseas surgery from the U.S.’ and the first eye bank that popped up was the Lions Eye Bank in Tampa. He called their eye bank. “I explained to them how we were raising money, and we wanted to send corneas to our Mayo Hospital in Lahore, where I trained. My class fellow at the time was professor of ophthalmology over there and they had a waiting list of 500 patients.”

They received 10 tissues from the Lions Eye Bank in Tampa that month, and the project was underway. Saving Sight, the Lions Eye Bank of Indianapolis and others also began working with Dr. Zafar on this project.

“At first, we were only interested in the Mayo Hospital in Lahore but, when I started calling around, it turned out that there are no measures of cornea donations, and nobody is donating any corneas in Pakistan. The entire country is depending on Sri Lanka,” he says.

“I then went ahead and started calling hospital after hospital, and we now have 39 facilities that we support. There are 5 states in Pakistan, like we have 50 states in the U.S.” Dr. Zafar is now coordinating distributing corneas to hospitals in all 5 states throughout Pakistan.

“Saving Sight has been so supportive and so helpful that it is just unreal,” he says. “I wanted to share with you that to date we have sent 3,574 corneas to Pakistan.” Several of these tissues have been distributed by Saving Sight. So far in 2021, Saving Sight has sent 43 tissues to Pakistan.

“The project was started by my two sisters who are doctors, one is a cardiologist in Dallas, and one is a hospitalist in Indianapolis, and me,” shares Dr. Zafar. “I am also a lifetime member of the Association of Pakistani Physicians of North America (APPNA). APPNA has about 6,000-7,000 members and I decided once we spread out, that we might be able to have more support if we contacted APPNA and brought this project under their umbrella, so that is what’s happened.”

Dr. Zafar and his sisters coordinate this process on a 100% voluntary basis. They raise funds among their family, friends, and colleagues to coordinate costs and shipments of the tissues with U.S. eye banks. The surgeons in Pakistan then perform the surgeries and post-operative care for free. Each of the hospitals are also government hospitals, meaning they do not charge the patients for their care.

Dr. Zafar personally calls each patient to make sure they were well-taken care of and to make sure no costs were incurred as well. Nearly all patients are underserved and are unable to pay for their healthcare needs.

The work of Dr. Zafar, the teams in Pakistan, and the involvement of U.S eye banks like Saving Sight, literally saves sight and changes the lives of these recipients. Without this work, they would not have access to care and would lead a life of corneal blindness.

“It would not have happened without Saving Sight’s help and without the other eye banks. You have made a huge impact on people’s lives,” says Dr. Zafar.

Dr. Zafar provided two videos of grateful corneal recipients in Pakistan.

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Vision Restored Thanks to Corneal Transplantation

This young man received a sight-restoring cornea transplant at the Quaid-E-Azam Medical College, Bahawalpur Pakistan thanks to the selfless gift of sight from a Saving Sight eye donor. Thank you to Dr. Fawad Zafar, surgeons in Pakistan, and the Association of Pakistani Physicians of North America for making this possible.

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The Gift of Sight Changes Lives in Pakistan

This young woman received a sight-restoring cornea transplant at the Quaid-E-Azam Medical College, Bahawalpur Pakistan thanks to the selfless gift of sight from a Saving Sight eye donor. Thank you to Dr. Fawad Zafar, surgeons in Pakistan, and the Association of Pakistani Physicians of North America for making this possible.