When you tell someone you work in a library, they automatically think you’re an avid reader. But for Denise from Hays, Kan., a part-time library employee, the opposite was true. Not because she didn’t love to read, but because a lifelong eye condition affected her vision so much she couldn’t. That is until a generous eye donor and a talented surgical team granted her the “gift of sight” through a cornea transplant.
For years, Denise had suffered from the effects of the ocular herpes virus – a communicable virus many are exposed to early in childhood. When breakouts occurred, Denise was often left with scars all over her cornea, eventually causing her to become legally blind in her right eye.
The condition caused limitations in Denise’s life. “I wrote really big so I could see better,” she said. “And whenever I was walking, I would have to look down the whole time to see if the surface was flat. If I came to steps, I would look for something to hold on to with my right hand or hang on to somebody.”
Finally, in 2004, Denise underwent a cornea transplant. According to Denise, the transplant experience went smoothly – she had no pain during the surgery or the recovery. In fact, she was awake and alert during the entire surgery, and her husband even got to watch the procedure.
Best of all, only 24 hours after surgery, vision in her right eye went from 20/200 to 20/70, and today, it’s 20/30. Said Denise, “It’s remarkable! I just wanted some vision back – I got a lot more than I expected!”
Today, Denise is back to reading again. She’s also taken up cross-stitching – a hobby she loved, but hadn’t been able to do in 20 years due to her limited vision. In addition, Denise is able to drive at night, something she couldn’t do prior to surgery, giving her more freedom and mobility in her day-to-day life.
Denise is a wonderful example of how a generous eye donor can change one’s life so dramatically. “I would certainly tell anyone – you are giving a gift through your donation. Becoming a donor is something you need to consider, and you should let your loved ones know what your thoughts are. It’s just the right thing to do.”