Our Sister Vicki

Our Sister Vicki

Vicki’s loving and caring legacy lives on as an eye donor.

Vicki was a loving and caring person who always wished to help others. She loved the outdoors, decorating and design, and reading in her Bible. Most of all, she loved her family and was a proud mother of 3 children, grandmother to 13 and great-grandmother to 9.

For the past ten years, Vicki had been in ill health and, while under hospice care, she made her wishes known she would like to donate her corneas. “As Vicki’s sister, I lost my sight in my right eye after cataract surgery so we hope that Vicki’s gift will help someone else see,” says Cricket, whose given name is Barbara but her little sister Vicki always lovingly called her Cricket. Vicki and Cricket had discussed organ donation, but knew with her health she’d likely be an eye and tissue donor.

“We discussed Saving Sight with hospice and were pleased that she could give sight to others,” says Cricket. “The Saving Sight technician who recovered her corneas was very caring and gentle and so very understanding.”

Just knowing Vicki’s donation will give someone else sight is meaningful to Cricket and the rest of their family. They know her legacy will live on and they will always remember her big, beautiful brown eyes that all of her children and grandchildren inherited.

“Vicki was a minister’s wife and always cared for others,” says Cricket. “She, at times, had little to give but always gave to others what she could so this is her last gift that the Lord let her share.”

You can learn more about joining the organ, eye and tissue donor registry at registerme.org

A Grandmother’s Legacy Shines on Through the Gift of Sight

A Grandmother’s Legacy Shines on Through the Gift of Sight

“It gives me pleasure and comfort that a piece of her is still on this earth,” said Garrett about his mother giving the gift of sight.”

Throughout her life, Janice touched those around her with her sweet and caring nature. “My mother, Janice, was a very sweet and kind woman. She was a single mother who raised me and also enjoyed spending time with her grandson, Alijah as well. My son misses his grandmother every day,” said Garrett. Janice retired from Hallmark in Kansas City after a 35-year career as a secretary. In her retirement, she enjoyed planting flowers, knitting, doing online jigsaw puzzles, traveling and listening to music. Her most treasured moments were those spent with her son and grandson.

With Janice’s caring and giving nature, her family’s decision to say yes to eye, organ and tissue donation upon her passing in November of 2015 was a natural one. “Since my mom was such a caring woman, she would’ve wanted it that way,” said Garrett.

Garrett recently received an anonymous letter through Saving Sight’s correspondence program thanking him for granting consent for his mother to give the gift of sight. Learning his mother’s recipient was also a mother and grandmother who enjoyed many of the same things brings Garrett peace. “This person can now see with my mother’s eyes,” said Garrett. “It gives me pleasure and comfort that a piece of her is still on this earth.”

Because the legacy his mother left in giving the gift of sight has helped comfort Garrett and his family, he encourages others to consider saying yes to eye, organ and tissue donation. “Please consider doing it because even though a loved one is gone, you are still giving another person hope to live a better life,” said Garrett.

 

You can join the millions of Americans like Janice who gave the gift of sight through eye donation by signing up for the donor registry at registerme.org. And be sure to share your decision with your family and friends. 

If you are a cornea transplant recipient or donor family and would like to share your experience like Garrett has, please send us a note through our Contact page. To learn more about writing your donor family or your loved one’s recipient, please read our Correspondence page or contact Saving Sight at 800-753-2265.

A Father Continues Helping Others Through the Gift of Sight

A Father Continues Helping Others Through the Gift of Sight

James enjoyed woodworking and watching NASCAR and NHRA drag races. “But above all, he was a man all about his family,” said his daughter Melissa. “He was the type of man that would give you the shirt off his back and do without so others didn’t have to.”

When James passed away suddenly at age 61, his family knew saying yes to eye donation was something he would have wanted. “The opportunity was presented to us just after my dad’s passing,” said Melissa. “Of course any decision in those moments is hard but, for us, it was a case of knowing my dad would have done it in a heartbeat because it was his way of helping someone.”

James’ legacy in helping others lives on through the gift of sight. Two individuals were able to have their sight restored through corneal transplants because he was an eye donor. For Melissa, it brings her comfort knowing her father was able to continue helping others even in death. “I feel like someone is seeing the world through my dad’s eyes and that gives me comfort to know he gave to someone that really needed his help in a way he probably never imagined,” said Melissa.

Melissa has had the opportunity to share about her father with his corneal transplant recipients through Saving Sight’s correspondence program. “I wanted my dad’s recipients to know that they were getting something from a man that had a heart of gold. My dad was an amazing man who worked hard and loved his family beyond belief.”

Because of her family’s experience, Melissa values the impact eye, organ and tissue donation can have not only for donor families, but for recipients as well. “You have the chance to give sight or save someone’s life,” said Melissa. “Nothing’s made me more proud than knowing that, even though he’s gone physically, he saved someone’s sight, and that’s something I will be proud of for the rest of my life!”

 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. 

Has eye donation touched your life as a donor family or recipient family with Saving Sight? Share your story with us! 

 

Donor Family Finds Comfort through Volunteerism to Honor the Legacy of their Son

Donor Family Finds Comfort through Volunteerism to Honor the Legacy of their Son

Because of donation, Vivian and Larry know that John’s legacy lives on in 37 other people. For Larry and Vivian, volunteering in support of the Donate Life message has brought great healing after their son John gave the gift of life as an eye and tissue donor.

John was a loving and protective big brother to his sister, Eleanor. Just 17 months apart, the siblings shared many friends and interests. They both loved sports and music. “John played the baritone saxophone on an award-winning jazz band in junior high and high school, earning a personal award at a jazz festival in high school,” said Vivian. He was also very involved in scouting, from Tiger Cubs to Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. John also loved politics and was involved in many political organizations, especially when he went to college. “Just 6 weeks before John passed away, he started school to become a massage therapist, which had long been a dream of his,” said Vivian.

John died of an aortic dissecting aneurysm on October 11, 2004, just under four weeks before his 23rd birthday. “When the ER doctor came in to ‘that’ room to tell us the news that they were unable to revive John, our world collapsed around us,” said Vivian. “At some point, we thought of donation and told the nurse that we wanted John to be a donor. There was no thought, at this point, about what could or could not be donated. We simply wanted him to be a donor.”

Gift of Hope in Illinois called Larry and Vivian at the hospital to explain the donation process. “After this day, the next correspondence we received was from the Lion’s Eye Bank, now Saving Sight. We were told John’s corneas went to two people in Missouri who could now see this world through our son’s beautiful eyes,” said Vivian. “Thus began the feelings of comfort and healing that donation gives to the donor family. Over the next few years, we received the news that John’s other bones and tissues were given to 35 other recipients.”

Because of donation, Vivian and Larry know that John’s legacy lives on in 37 other people. “A man and a woman in Missouri gained sight because of his corneas. The fact that two people see this world through John’s eyes is remarkable,” said Vivian. “A Staff Sergeant in the Army has a rebuilt knee from our son. Beyond those, there are 34 people from New York to California and Florida to Wyoming, who carry a part of our son’s precious gift.”

Larry and Vivian have been very involved as Donate Life volunteers on both the national and local level. Volunteering with Donate Life

As a donor family, Larry and Vivian feel there is no way to overstate how meaningful John’s donation has been to their ability to cope with, and survive, in a world without him. “Add to this, the benefits of being advocates for donation through Saving Sight, IL Secretary of State Jesse White’s office, Gift of Hope and Eversight, and you have our recipe for survival,” said Larry. One of the questions Vivian asked the day he died was ‘How will people know John?’ “This is accomplished by being donor advocates for the above organizations and others. We have been blessed to share John throughout the state of Illinois and to places as far away as Savannah, GA, Denver, CO, Salt Lake City, UT and Pasadena, CA. The measures of comfort and healing we have been blessed with are incredible. It is our saving grace,” said Larry.

Larry and Vivian have been very involved as Donate Life volunteers on the national and local level. Here are a few of their volunteer experiences:

  • Presentations and booths (too numerous) for groups from small health care seminars, nursing students, hospital staff, and professional organizations associated with donation (funeral home directors, coroners, etc).
  • Savannah, GA – Presentation for the American Pyrotechnic Association’s National Conference, 2010
  • Denver, CO – Presentation to Allosource home office staff, 2007 and 2015
  • Denver, CO – Presentation to all 3 shifts at Statline, 2015
  • Salt Lake City, UT – Presentation to Allosource staff, 2007
  • Pasadena, CA – Donate Life Rose Parade Float, Vivian rode the float in 2013, and John is on a Floragraph in 2018
  • Pasadena, CA – We are both members of the DL Rose Parade Float committee, 2013 to present

“We have received such healing through the organizations that have nurtured us and allowed us to tell our story, through their employees who are always there for us, through the recipients and donor families that we have come to know and love around the country, and most importantly, for this important cause which also allows us to include both our daughter and granddaughter in our journey as we honor John.”

In October, Larry and Vivian were able to travel to California to decorate a floragraph that will be carried on the 2018 Donate Life Rose Parade Float with their daughter Eleanor and granddaughter Alina. “We left the majority of the floragraph decorating to Eleanor, who did a fantastic job,” said Vivian. They left part of the floragraph unfinished to bring home to Illinois to have friends and family help complete it at a special event.

This November, Larry and Vivian held a beautiful celebration at the United Community Bank in Sherman to finish decorating John’s floragraph. The intent of the event was not only to finish John’s floragraph, but to also promote donation said Larry. “We invited family to help with this, as well as longtime friends of ours, John’s and Eleanor’s. We, of course, had help from Saving Sight and the IL Secretary of State’s Office, both at the event and leading up to it.”

“On the day of the event, we were overwhelmed by the response,” said Larry. “We saw former teachers and classmates of John’s, including his former jazz band director. Family and friends visited from all over the state of Illinois and Iowa.”

The decision to participate in the Donate Life Float was an easy one for their family. “We are blessed that our business was in a position to sponsor John this year. We have been involved with the Donate Life Float for 6 years – first as honorees and the last 5 as volunteers and committee members,” said Larry.

“It is unbelievable that John’s floragraph will be placed on the Donate Life Float and will have the chance to been seen by hundreds of thousands on the parade, and millions on television,” said Vivian.

 

Look for the Donate Life Float during the 129th Rose Parade on January 1, 2018.

 

Devon’s Legacy Smiles on Through His Selfless Gift

Devon’s Legacy Smiles on Through His Selfless Gift

For Danielle, knowing her 10-year-old son Devon could help others through
being an eye donor gives her a sense of peace.

Losing a child is heartbreaking. For Danielle, knowing her 10-year-old son Devon could help others through being an eye donor gives her a sense of peace. “Devon is really missed so much, but I know that he is happy he was able to help someone else,” said Danielle.

Devon was born with Goldenhar Syndrome. Though his case had nothing to do with his heart, he was born with fluid on his brain, extra tissue on his eye and skin tags that were removed at birth. Devon also underwent surgery at the age of 2 and had 2 rods and 6 screws placed in his back.

Despite his health concerns and diagnosis of ADHD & ADD severe in first grade, Danielle said he was so smart, energetic and always smiling.

“He could make everybody smile; if you were having a bad day, he knew how to make you laugh,” said Danielle.

She added that Devon was a good big brother and loved his little sister so much. He also enjoyed playing with his cars, going to demolition derbies and being around others. Danielle said his favorite subject in school was writing – reading his writing today still touches her heart and brings a tear to her eyes.

“Even with the disability he had, it didn’t stop him from being the little kid that he was.” They lost Devon the summer before he was to begin 5th grade. “His teachers loved him so much – he could drive them nuts, but he was just the light of the room and could make them smile.”

When Danielle’s family lost Devon in 2015, they were approached by Saving Sight about eye donation. At the time, Danielle wasn’t familiar with donation and had limited knowledge about the donor registry. “When everything happened, I got the phone call to ask if we could donate,” said Danielle. “At that moment, it wasn’t quite the right time and I asked them to call back the next day. They did which was amazing and they respected me.”

Danielle wasn’t sure Devon could be a donor with his disabilities but was happy he was able to be an eye donor. “Devon would have wanted to help others because he had a situation with his eyes and, I think deep down, he will always know he was able to help somebody,” said Danielle.

Danielle recommends discussing donation to any family dealing with end of life care. “When we got a letter from California that was an amazing feeling that we were able to help somebody else that had a problem with their eyesight,” said Danielle, “It means a lot to somebody on the other end and I know it hurts because you’re loved one is gone but, in the end, it makes a difference being able to help others.”

You can join the millions of Americans like Devon who gave the gift of sight through eye donation, sign 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.

If you are a cornea transplant recipient or donor family and would like to share your experience like Danielle has, please send us a note through our Contact page. To learn more about writing your donor family or your loved one’s recipient, please read our Correspondence page or contact Saving Sight at 800-753-2265.

Active Family Man Carries on his Legacy in Helping Others

Active Family Man Carries on his Legacy in Helping Others

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.