Thanks to a cornea transplant, Anne is able to keep working at her home art studio.
Anne is an artist who resides in Gladstone, Missouri, a municipality in the Kansas City area. Now retired, she focuses on creating artwork for her friends and acquaintances, and she is active in her community as the planning commissioner. In 1980, however, Anne was diagnosed with a hereditary eye disease that causes vision to get worse as an inner layer of the cornea deteriorates. “I went to see my doctor for my yearly exam,” Anne said, “and I was diagnosed with Fuchs’ corneal dystrophy, which, if left untreated, would have blinded me in the left eye.”
For some time, Anne was able to continue her work, both as a teacher and an artist, by keeping routine appointments with her doctor. Together, they could retain her vision by regularly updating the prescription of her glasses. By 2007, however, her doctor finally recommended her to a corneal transplant specialist to fix her vision once and for all. Dr. Tim Cavanaugh of the Cavanaugh Eye Center conducted the operation, replacing the diseased portion of her cornea with corneal tissue donated by a generous donor and their family.
The transplant was a success. “I had to stay still for a day or two after surgery, but my vision in the left eye was 20/30 afterward,” Anne said. “It was a very easy procedure to go through.” Furthermore, the benefits of the surgery have continued for Anne. “I ordered new glasses after the surgery, and I am still wearing those glasses,” she said. “My sight has changed so little in seven years that new lenses are not necessary.”
Today, Anne continues to make art, including creating the cover art for Saving Sight’s 2014 holiday card. She is very thankful for the opportunity the transplant has afforded her, both personally and professionally. “I owe so much to the donor, my doctors, and Saving Sight,” she said. “Thanks to the cornea transplant, I can not only see but also continue as an artist.”
To join the millions of Americans who have signed up for the donor registry, register online at Donate Life America or at your local Department of Motor Vehicles office. And be sure to share your decision with your family and friends.
A talented musician, Max created drum cadences that continue to be performed by his high school band,
When 18-year-old Max passed away following an auto accident, the world lost a talented young man. Yet, Max’s legacy lives on – both through his incredible music and his gift of sight.
As a high school student in Kansas, Max discovered a passion for music. He was the captain of his school’s drum line and played percussion in two church praise bands, so it was no surprise when the talented teen received a college scholarship to study music education.
While his talent defined much of who he was, it was his caring spirit that truly impacted those around him. Said his mother, Pam, “One year he found out that a disabled kid in his youth group wouldn’t be able to go to camp if he didn’t have someone along to help him, and Max dropped everything and volunteered so that kid wouldn’t miss out on camp. He didn’t let me tell anyone about that while he was alive – that was typical Max.”
After his death, Max’s high school classmates chose to honor his memory through his music. Throughout the 2010 football season, the marching band performed one of Max’s arrangements at every home game during which the drum line played his cadence while the rest of the band got down on one knee. “It made me cry every time,” Pam shared.
In addition, a memorial in Max’s name raised funds to purchase a marimba, a large percussion instrument, for his former high school. For years, the nine high schools in his school district have passed one marimba back and forth. Now his alma mater has its own instrument for performances.
A Gift that Lives on
When Max lost his life, his parents had to make the agonizing decision whether or not to donate his eyes, organs and tissues. Although they had never previously discussed donation with their son, his parents chose to donate his corneas to help others regain their sight. It was only after the decision was made did his parents learn that Max had indeed signed his driver’s license to be a donor.
For Pam, knowing Max continues to help others through donation has been a light during the grieving process. “Through discussion boards for parents who’ve lost children, I’ve seen so many parents who regret not making the choice to donate. But at the time, you think of your child as a person who still needs things like eyes and organs. I felt if we were going to lose him anyway, I wanted something good to come out of it.”
Because of Max’s gift, two individuals – one in Missouri and one in California – underwent corneal transplants to restore their vision. Like the hundreds of people he touched in his 18 years, these gentlemen’s lives are better because of Max.
Remarked Pam, “I pray that the people who received the gift of his eyes will be blessed by knowing that Max saw life through those eyes, and more importantly, we saw that deep, sweet soul that belonged to Max through them.”
Jake was known for his talent and his compassion.
Throughout his short life, Jake of Chatham, Ill. was known for his sense of humor and his unwavering loyalty to his friends. According to his mother, Barbara, Jake was always the first person to jump in whenever anyone needed help.
After a car accident claimed the life of her 18-year-old son, Barbara was asked if she would consent to donating Jake’s corneas and skin to help others. In the midst of a devastating tragedy, Jake’s parents made a compassionate decision from their hearts, just as Jake would have, and agreed to donate.
“I thought something good should come from a tragedy,” she said. “We had never talked about organ donation – I mean, you never expect your 18 year old to die – but I knew donation is something he would want.”
Jake had just graduated Williamsville High School with honors before his accident. During his high school career, he was an Illinois State Scholar and a member of the National Honor Society. In addition, Jake, a talented bass player, also incorporated his love of the arts into his school activities. He was king of his madrigals group and performed in school musicals, including his favorite role as of Horrors. An active member in the school’s vocal music department, Jake even sang for President Obama in 2009 as part of his school’s vocal jazz choir.
However, Jake’s greatest love was film. Remarked Barbara, “He loved movies and knew more about movie trivia than anyone I’ve ever met.” In fact, Jake had a full academic scholarship to Southern Illinois University at Carbondale to study filmmaking in order to prepare for a career as a director.
While Jake’s dreams were cut short, his kindness for others continues to live on – both through the lives of the hundreds of people he touched in his 18 years and through the eyes of a cornea recipient in California who can now see thanks to Jake’s family’s generous gift.