Hiking over rough terrain and in cold temperatures is worth it to see the beauty of a glacier. On a recent Alaskan cruise from Anchorage to Vancouver, British Columbia, Katie and her husband hiked at Davidson Glacier in Alaska. “We had to hike over rough terrain to get to the glacier. There was a time I was not able to see well enough to hike with confidence. Now that I can see clearly, I feel able to take it on,” said Katie. “Every day I am grateful for my eyesight and the things I can accomplish.”
Just 3 years ago, Katie’s eyesight had deteriorated due to the eye condition keratoconus, which causes the normally round cornea to bulge and become cone-shaped. The misshaped cornea causes nearsightedness and blurred vision. Katie knew someday she would have to have a corneal transplant due to the condition. The question wasn’t if, but rather when. An avid reader, she was no longer able to see the words on the pages of her favorite books and relied on audio books to enjoy her favorite titles. Katie and her husband enjoyed traveling, but unable to read signs in the airport and along roadways, Katie’s worsening vision limited their ability to travel to the places they wanted to go.
For as long as Katie could remember her husband and friends could see things she couldn’t. As she got older and her keratoconus worsened, she wore contacts in both eyes but still couldn’t see. Katie retired early from the state of Illinois where she had found ways to enlarge the print on her computer to see the text and numbers with accuracy in her accounting work. Retirement provided her time to recuperate, making it the perfect opportunity for her to have her transplant. “One of the things that made me decide to go ahead and have this done is that we never know what the future holds and I would rather do it now and enjoy the benefits longer in my life,” said Katie. “Falling becomes a concern as you age and not being able to see increases that risk. You want to be able to see as well as possible for safety.”
In October 2013, Saving Sight coordinated donation from a generous donor to give Katie the gift of sight through a corneal transplant. With regained sight, Katie couldn’t be more appreciative to the donor and their family. “There is always that sorrow of losing a loved one and I thank them for making this decision,” said Katie. “Organ donation is essential to enhance peoples’ lives, not just corneas but everything – you can save a life or improve a life immensely.” Katie joined the organ donor registry years ago in the state of Illinois and carries the designation on her driver’s license.
Katie advises others who need a corneal transplant to go ahead with the transplant and enjoy the benefits of restored sight. “Be patient with the healing process, but it’s worth it,” she said. “I appreciate what Saving Sight does and being able to see better now.”
Join Katie and countless others by registering your decision to an eye, organ and tissue donor at registerme.org and share your decision with your loved ones.