Pam captured these beautiful winter scenes at her country home in Missouri as our 2017 featured holiday artist.
Pam captured these beautiful winter scenes at her country home in Missouri as our 2017 featured holiday artist.
Thanks to our staff, partners, volunteers and supporters of our work in eye donation, more corneal recipients like Pam are able to enjoy the twinkling holiday lights and watch the first snowfall of the season. And more donor families are able to find comfort in their loved one’s legacy living on through the gift of sight in 2017.
We wish you a bright holiday season and look forward to our continued work in the new year. Happy Holidays, from all of us at Saving Sight!
About the Artist
Thanks to the generosity of an eye donor, Pam was able to correct her vision through the gift of sight. “My vision kept getting dimmer and dimmer and glasses just didn’t fix it,” said Pam. “We realized through several tests that it was Fuch’s dystrophy.”
After her corneal transplant, Pam chose to write her donor family to thank them for their kindness. “Families have felt such a loss but they have helped other people,” said Pam. “I knew they had suffered a loss and just wanted them to know we appreciated the gift. It’s not just that the donor gave but the family accepted and followed through with their wishes.”
Today, Pam has regained her active lifestyle exploring the outdoors and gardening. She and her husband are avid birdwatchers and she is able to see the fine details in feathers and coloring she was missing before her transplant. Pam has regained her independence, driving with confidence again and seeing details when grocery shopping, watching television, reading menus in restaurants and even beading her holiday Christmas balls. More than anything, Pam is able to watch and keep up with her 6 active grandchildren and see the world as they see it now.
“As my vision becomes clearer and clearer, I realize that I had forgotten how bright and colorful our world is and I appreciate and love every second of it,” says Pam.
Pam captured these beautiful winter scenes at her country home in Missouri.
Staff at Capital Region Medical Center dedicated a rose in honor of their donors on the 14th Annual Donate Life Rose Parade Float.
Each year, Saving Sight works to coordinate the eye donation process for donors in partner hospitals across Missouri, Kansas and central Illinois. Saving Sight partner relations coordinators meet with the partner hospitals as the year comes to a close to honor the gifts of their donors on a national stage during the annual Tournament of Roses – Rose Parade.
“This year our PRCs met with an administrator at 26 of our partner hospitals and partnered with Midwest Transplant Network to meet with 14 shared hospital partners. The number of hospital administrators who participate in this program is growing each year. It’s a great way for Saving Sight to promote in the local communities the culture of donation within these hospitals,” said Michala Stoker, Director of Partner Relations.
Saving Sight asked each partner hospital to dedicate a rose in honor of the hospital’s eye donors that was carried on the annual Donate Life Rose Parade Float. Each signed a vial with a personal message from the hospital in memory of the hospital’s eye donors. This year, the vial carried a white Akito rose on the Rose Parade Float to honor the donors and help spread the simple, life-giving message that eye, organ and tissue donation heals and saves lives.
Memorial Medical Center dedicated a rose to honor their donors on the 14th Annual Donate Life Rose Parade Float.
“It’s an incredible gift these donors make through eye donation. They forever change the lives of corneal transplant recipients,” said Saving Sight Chief Executive Officer Tony Bavuso. “We’re excited to work with our partner hospitals to honor that gift by dedicating a rose that will be seen around the world as part of this year’s Tournament of Roses Parade and serve as a testament to the healing power of the gift of sight.”
The 128th Annual Tournament of Roses – Rose Parade was broadcast around the world from Pasadena, California on January 2, 2017. The 14th Annual Donate Life Rose Parade Float won the Theme Trophy for their Teammates in Life float that honored the heroes who helped others through the gift of sight and the gift of life.
Across our service region, Saving Sight recovered, processed and placed 3,016 corneas for transplant in 2015. Because of the compassion of donors, families and staff at partner hospitals, Saving Sight changed the lives of an average of eight people every day through the gift of sight.
Over 48,000 corneal transplants took place across the country to restore sight for those in need last year and more than 15,000 Americans gave life through organ donation. Still, today more than 120,000 men, women children await lifesaving organ transplants in the United States. If you haven’t registered as an eye, organ and tissue donor yet, you can make a difference by choosing to give life today at registerme.org.
Saving Sight, Donate Life Team Illinois, Life Goes On and Mid-America Transplant at the Cardinals/Cubs baseball game on September 13.
Saving Sight partners with local community events, health fairs and hospitals to increase donor designation through local donor designation drives. While 95 percent of Americans are in favor of being a donor, only 52 percent are registered. Donor designation drives help bridge the gap and allow Saving Sight to educate individuals about eye, organ and tissue donation and provide the community with resources to make the best decision for themselves and their family in regards to donation. In September, Saving Sight held several of these events throughout our service area.
Saving Sight teamed up with the Kansas Lions Sight Foundation to have a booth at the Kansas State Fair September 9-18. Saving Sight’s Hutchinson, Kan. office staff Heather Britain, Amber Simmons and Samantha Christenson took turns during the 10 days of the fair, along with local Lions Club volunteers, to man the booth that was part of the Lions Mobile Screening Unit. “What we as staff enjoyed the most was getting to talk to recipients and their families, donor families and even a transplant surgeon about all the positive things about donation they have encountered,” said Heather Britain, partner relations coordinator.
At the Washington County Memorial Hospital 22nd Annual Washington Health Fair on September 10 Richard Hamilton, partner relations coordinator for Saving Sight, raised awareness about Saving Sight and the community vision programs we offer and educated attendees on the importance of eye, organ and tissue donation.
Amber Simmons with Saving Sight speaks with a gentleman at the Kansas State Fair about donor designation. Saving Sight also joined Donate Life Team Illinois, Mid-America Transplant and Life Goes On at a donor designation drive at the Cardinals and Cubs game on September 13 to educate and increase donor designation with baseball fans. In addition to the organizations being represented, a heart transplant recipient, a donor mother and a kidney recipient also volunteered to speak with those who approached the booth, sparking conversation and questions among attendees.
Hosting donor designation drives at these different events helps educate those in different population groups throughout our service area and allows us to work with groups who have similar missions for promoting the positive impact of organ donation.
Nationally, nearly 120,000 men, women and children are awaiting organ transplants and each organ donor has the potential to save up to 8 lives and enhance the lives of up to 50 people. You can join the millions of Americans who have registered to be donors by signing up at registerme.org. Visit donatelife.net for resources to help spread the Donate Life message or to learn how you can host an event to register donors in your community.
Rick was an active family man who continued to give in death as an eye donor.
Rick enjoyed having a good time in all he did. He was also a good steward and gave his time freely to help others and loved spending time with his wife, children and grandchild. Rick lived an active lifestyle, was a gifted craftsman and an excellent athlete. He had given up basketball the year prior when he had heart surgery, but continued to play volleyball and golf until he passed away at age 61. Rick was a sports car enthusiast, an active deacon and church youth leader, and had served in the Missouri Army National Guard.
“He’s just a great guy gone way too soon,” said his wife Theresa.
Rick passed away of a heart attack during a volleyball game in 2014. “It was very hard on his teammates – they performed CPR – but I was very thankful he was not by himself,” said Theresa. Because living an active lifestyle was so important to Rick, he and his wife had talked about organ donation and end-of-life-care.
“While in shock and coming to grips that terrible night, there wasn’t a doubt that we were going to do the organ donation,” said Theresa. She and Rick were both blood donors and registered organ donors; they believed in giving what they could to help others. “It’s good to have those conversations, even though they’re not fun,” said Theresa. “You’re just so totally lost and in shock, but having some direction
Rick and Theresa share the belief in giving what they can to help others.
about what you’ve talked about gives you confidence in making these tough decisions.”
Theresa said some people might not understand the immediacy of the questions about donation. Hospital staff, the funeral home director and Saving Sight all explained the process and made the difficult situation as positive as it could be. It was impactful for her that Rick was able to help people until the very end with his gift of life.
Being able to donate his corneas meant a lot to Theresa because Rick had prided himself on his excellent eyesight compared to her needing strong corrective lenses. Because of Saving Sight’s correspondence program, Theresa knows Rick’s cornea was able to help a nurse regain her vision.
“It just helps me as I transition to life without him – it helps me know that I honored a wish of his,” said Theresa. Both of their children are nurses as well. Knowing their father’s recipient was a nurse resonated with them and reinforced to Theresa that it was a ‘meant-to-be kind of thing.’
Theresa said individuals thinking about joining the donor registry need to personally evaluate if that’s the right decision for them within their belief system. If it is, they need to be able to communicate that to their next-of-kin so it’s not a surprise when handling end-of-life-care. “That’s what I can really recommend – communicate. Death is hard enough, but when there’s surprises, that can be a challenge,” said Theresa.
Join the millions of Americans who have signed up for the donor registry by signing up online at registerme.org or at your local Department of Motor Vehicles office. And be sure to share your decision to be an eye, organ and tissue donor with your family and friends.
Aaron celebrated his 40th birthday shortly before he passed away.
A quiet and good-hearted man, Aaron loved spending time with his family, including his two children and grandchild. He also loved connecting with nature. Some of his favorite moments were spent on the river fishing and hunting for arrow heads with his son. Aaron was a talented whittler and would come up with the most unique ideas and designs to whittle into pieces of wood with his razor-knife.
Aaron was raised on a farm and worked in construction, following in father’s footsteps. Aaron had just celebrated his 40th birthday when he passed away.
“He was far from perfect, but he was a loving, kind and generous person,” Aaron’s mother, Debbie, said. “He was the type of man who would give the shirt off his back to help someone else and he continued to give in death.”
Aaron had registered as an eye, organ and tissue donor at his local Department of Motor Vehicles office and carried a donor symbol on his license. After a motor vehicle accident claimed his life, Aaron was able to give the gift of sight through eye donation.
“I did not know he was a donor, but he was always helping others.” Debbie added Aaron knew she and his dad were registered organ donors.
Aaron was an avid outdoorsman who loved being on the water.
“Aaron being able to help others is what has helped me,” said Debbie. She and her family find comfort in Aaron’s legacy living on through the gift of sight. Through Saving Sight’s correspondence program, Debbie chose to write to Aaron’s cornea recipient because she wanted them to know what kind of person he was.
“The woman who received his corneas – it couldn’t have went to a better person,” said Debbie. From correspondence, Debbie learned the recipient of one of Aaron’s corneas needed her vision restored to continue caring for her son who had special needs. “I was really glad to hear from her. When I finally got the letter, it was right around Aaron’s birthday.”
Debbie encourages others to join the registry, like her son Aaron. “I think it’s one of the greatest things anyone can do,” said Debbie. “When we leave this world, we don’t need this body anymore so why not donate to help others; it’s just a blessing.”
You too can join the millions of Americans like Aaron who signed up for the donor registry by registering at DonateLifeAmerica or at your local Department of Motor Vehicles office. And be sure to share your decision to be an eye, organ and tissue donor with your family and friends.
Connie and Lion Gerry encourage donor designation at the Missouri State Fair.
Saving Sight volunteers teamed up with the Governor’s Organ Donation Advisory Committee and Donate Life Missouri to raise awareness of organ and tissue donation at this year’s Missouri State Fair. Over six days at the State Fair, a total of thirty-eight volunteers talked with potential donors and those already on the registry to promote a supportive culture of the life-saving power of organ donation.
PDG Lion Jene of the Marshall Lions and Lion Gerry of the Forsyth Lions volunteered at the event on behalf of Saving Sight. Past organ recipient Ruthie and Gayle also represented Saving Sight at the State Fair Donate Life booth.
Approximately 122,000 Americans of all ages are currently awaiting organ transplants in the United States. One organ donor has the ability to save up to 8 lives.
“Organ donation is a selfless gift to help enhance another’s life,” Lion Gerry said. “Volunteering was enriching as I had the opportunity to meet people who had first-hand experience in organ donation. Donor families who came to the booth told of relatives who had become donors and the good feelings they had knowing a precious gift was made so someone else could continue life.”
You can make a difference! Join Missouri’s organ and tissue donor registry today by visiting missouriorgandonor.com.