Support Saving Sight and Help Honor Eye Donors

Support Saving Sight and Help Honor Eye Donors

Last year, 2,559 heroes gave the gift of sight through eye donation with Saving Sight. Help us honor these donors on this year’s Donate Life Rose Parade Float.

Saving Sight has launched a t-shirt fundraiser with Bonfire, a shirt platform that works with nonprofit organizations. We will be selling three designs, available in July, August and September respectively. The proceeds from the sale of these shirts will be used to purchase roses in memory of our donors.

Each year, Donate Life’s Rose Parade float features riders representing transplant recipients; living donor walkers; and dozens of memorial “floragraph” portraits of deceased organ, eye and tissue donors. The deck of the float is also covered with thousands of dedicated roses with vials carrying personal messages of love, hope and remembrance.

To purchase a shirt, visit Shirts available for purchase July 1-21st, August 1-21st, and Sept 1-21st. At the conclusion of each campaign, the shirts will be shipped directly to the purchaser the last week of each month.


Retired Judge Gary Schmidt Shares His Story as a Corneal Transplant Recipient

Retired Judge Gary Schmidt Shares His Story as a Corneal Transplant Recipient

April was National Donate Life month and Saving Sight took part in numerous celebrations in Missouri, Kansas and Illinois to help spread awareness about the impact of organ, eye and tissue donation.

On April 9th, Saving Sight was honored to take part in Donor Family Recognition Day at the Missouri State Capitol. During the event, donor families were honored by the Governor and were also introduced on the House floor. We also had the great privilege of having one of our cornea recipients, retired Judge Gary Schmidt, speak at the event to share about the impact corneal transplantation has had on his life.

Schmidt finds it very meaningful to speak at events like this. “It gives me an opportunity to express my gratitude to the families of donors of all types. Donors have done so much to improve the lives, perhaps save the lives of others. It is a privilege to say ‘Thank you!’ I’m not able to find the words to adequately express the debt of gratitude we owe them.”


Watch Retired Judge Gary Schmidt Share His Story at Donor Family Recognition Day at the Missouri State Capitol

“Donors have done so much to improve the lives, perhaps save the lives of others. It is a privilege to say ‘Thank you!’ I’m not able to find the words to adequately express the debt of gratitude we owe them.”

Gary Schmidt, Cornea Recipient

After the event, Judge Schmidt followed up with Saving Sight to discuss his experience in further detail:

Saving Sight: Judge Schmidt, can you tell us about your experience with corneal transplantation?

Schmidt: What I remember most is the fear. When my corneas both went bad at the same time, I was almost completely blind. It happened in a few short days, and I wasn’t prepared for the possibility I might be sightless for the rest of my life.

Saving Sight: What caused you to require a transplant?

Schmidt: My corneas both failed from a combination of diabetes, age and bad genes.

Saving Sight: What was your transplant experience like?

Schmidt: Unfortunately, it didn’t go smoothly. Dr. Leutkemeyer elected to do my left eye first and, after being placed, the graft moved out of position. It took several trips to surgery before the graft took and held. The right eye went much more smoothly, and I was seeing quite well within a few days.

Saving Sight: Did you have a connection to organ, eye and tissue donation prior to your transplant?

Schmidt: When I was first out of law school, an old high school classmate took on a project of signing up many bone marrow transplant donors. I was one of her targets. The idea didn’t take much selling; registering as a bone marrow donor might save a life. So I registered, and got an immediate preliminary match. Unfortunately further testing showed we were not compatible. Ultimately, several of my high school classmates did indeed donate bone marrow.

Saving Sight: What’s something you learned about the donation process through your experience?

Schmidt: I am constantly amazed at the things that may be donated, both while the donor is living and postmortem.

Saving Sight: What is something you’d like others to know about the process?

Schmidt: I would hope that everyone is aware of how much donation can change the world for a person, for a family. In my case, my donor gave me the gift of sight. Some donors are able to save lives.

Saving Sight: What are some things you enjoy to do and are able to do now that your sight is restored?

Schmidt: If I couldn’t see, I’d be a huge burden to my family. The gift of sight gives me independence, and keeps me from being a burden to them. I can now do all the things I enjoy, including going to high school football games and reading. It was always my dream to spend retirement reading all the things I never had time to read when I was working full time.

Saving Sight: What caused you to write to your donor family through our Correspondence Program?

Schmidt: Considering what my donor did for me, how could I not try and express my gratitude for their relative that did so much for me? In my case, I hope they are proud of the very good things their donor was able to accomplish. They should be very proud of him.

Saving Sight: Why is speaking at events like Donor Day at the Capitol meaningful to you as a cornea recipient?

Schmidt: It gives me an opportunity to express my gratitude to families of donors of all types. Donors have done so much to improve lives, perhaps save the lives of others. It is a privilege to say “Thank you!” I’m not able to find the words to adequately express the debt of gratitude we owe them.

Saving Sight: Is there anything else about your experience you would like to mention?

Schmidt: I think it must be incredibly satisfying to work with an agency (Saving Sight) that does so much good. Before my eyes failed I was vaguely aware that someone must be tending to such things. Now I can put smiling faces to some of the people who are doing such incredible work.


Our Commitment to Changing Lives in 2018

Our Commitment to Changing Lives in 2018

Our Impact in 2018

Thanks to the many partners who help us facilitate the gift of eye donation, and to the thousands of individuals who said “yes” to giving that gift, we were able to impact the lives of more than 7 individuals a day last year.

Together, We Change Lives

2018 was a banner year, in which Saving Sight provided the gift of sight to even more individuals through the help of our many partners in donation. We’re proud to share our successes with you and humbled to say thank you for your support. We hope that you enjoy hearing the stories of those we’ve served this past year, and that you’ll take the opportunity to share their stories with others, as well. 

Retired Pediatrics Nurse Finds Relief through Corneal Transplantation

Retired Pediatrics Nurse Finds Relief through Corneal Transplantation

Haley, Elaine and Rick at the Candlelight Memorial in Springfield on March 16th.

As a retired pediatrics nurse and two-time cornea transplant recipient, Elaine is familiar with the impact eye, organ and tissue transplantation has on the lives of others.

Elaine has keratoconus, a progressive eye disease that thins the cornea and causes it to become cone-shaped, distorting vision. To help with her worsening vision, Elaine underwent her first cornea transplant in the 1980s. After her transplant, Elaine was given gas permeable contact lenses. These contacts ended up causing corneal abrasions and Elaine discontinued wearing a contact in that eye. “Over the years it had become very scarred to the point my eyelid could not close at night and this caused dryness and discomfort. I also could not see through the scar,” says Elaine. She also had cataract surgery on that eye, which added to her corneal scarring.
Elaine had been told her corneal scarring and vision couldn’t be corrected in that eye. Due to the pain she was experiencing, she and her best friend decided to seek a second opinion. That’s when she discovered optometrist Dr. David Pierce. “I absolutely adore my optometrist, Dr. Pierce. He’s just so caring and referred me to Dr. Daniel Osborn who is an ophthalmologist. They discussed my case and decided they could replace my cornea transplant. Dr. Osborn did a fabulous job!”
Dr. Obsborn performed Elaine’s second corneal transplant on June 16, 2018 and she is healing well. As of February 2019, Elaine’s vision is testing 20/25 in her transplant eye and she hopes to continue getting better once the rest of her stitches are removed.
“The pain I went through previously was just horrible,” says Elaine. “What I’ve been through with the second transplant has been worth it with my eye not drying out at night and fussing with the drops. I’m more comfortable and better now.”
Thanks to her cornea transplant, Elaine, who celebrated her 81st birthday this February, is able to enjoy watching birds outdoors and from her dining room window again. She and her husband HF also are able to keep up with their 5 kids, 12 grandchildren and 30 great-grandchildren now as well.
Connecting through Correspondence
Elaine chose to write to her donor’s family to say thank you for their generosity that made her transplant possible. “The tissue is so priceless to the people who need it. I will be forever thankful to her (Elaine’s eye donor), to her family and to God for my new cornea. When you help someone else the blessings will always be returned to you.”
Sharing Her Story at the Springfield Candlelight Memorial
Saving Sight was honored to co-host a Candlelight Memorial with Mid-America Transplant on Saturday, March 16, 2019. We participate in this event annually to honor eye, organ and tissue donor families. Elaine spoke at the event to share her gratitude for her restored sight as a cornea recipient.


Black Friday. Cyber Monday.

November 27th, 2018

Saving Sight has joined #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving that harnesses the collective power of individuals, communities and organizations to encourage philanthropy and to celebrate generosity worldwide.

Occurring this year on November 27th, #GivingTuesday is held annually on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday. #GivingTuesday kicks off the holiday giving season, inspiring people to collaborate in improving their local communities and to give back in impactful ways to support the causes they believe in.

Help us change lives by saving sight with a gift on Tuesday, November, 27th and share your giving story on social media with #GivingTuesday



Show others why you support Saving Sight on #GivingTuesday with a #UNselfie

Share an #UNselfie & Inspire Others to Give

Show others in your social media networks why you support Saving Sight by taking an #UNselfie. The #UNselfie or selfless selfie is a powerful way to show how you choose to give and why that cause is important to you.

Download and print the #GivingTuesday sign and write why you support Saving Sight. You can also mark it on your phone or tablet. Then, take a photo with the sign and post to your social media networks. Tag @WeSaveSight on Facebook or @WeSaveSight on Twitter, use the hashtags #UNselfie and #GivingTuesday and link to our giving page



November is Eye Donation Month

November is Eye Donation Month

November is Eye Donation Month! Eye Bank Association of America (EBAA) uses the month as an opportunity to educate the public about the importance of registering to be a donor, about cornea donation and transplantation, and to acknowledge the work of their partner eye banks. As a member eye bank, Saving Sight will be taking part in celebrating Eye Donation Month and the theme of The Power of You. The campaign demonstrates the “power” that individuals have in building hope, restoring sight and changing lives, including healthcare professionals and partners, researchers, eye bank staff, corneal surgeons, and recipients and donor families.

During the 2017-2018 fiscal year, Saving Sight provided corneal tissue to 2,957 transplant recipients locally and throughout the world thanks to the selfless gift of sight from 2,480 eye donors and their families.

We will be sharing several cornea recipient and donor family stories in November. Be sure to follow Saving Sight on Facebook and on our website during November for #EyeDonationMonth2018. Thank you for helping us change lives by saving sight!