As a retired educator, Diane can attest to the importance of developing good reading skills for success in life. However, when Diane’s vision began to deteriorate from keratoconus she got a whole new perspective on students who have difficulty reading.
“You just give up,” said Diane.
At age 30 Diane was diagnosed with keratoconus- a condition in which the cornea is abnormally cone-shaped, causing significant visual impairment. For many years she was able to wear glasses or contact lenses to correct her vision. However, over the last several years Diane’s condition reached a point where she could only wear contacts for a few hours, having to remove them because of the pain they caused. Without the corrective lenses she was legally blind- unable to read, drive at night, dial a phone or use a computer.
“It’s one thing to be at home and not be able to see,” said Diane. “It’s another to be in an outside environment.”
The physical limitations of being legally blind affected Diane’s ability to teach reading classes at a local community college. Essentially, life went on hold.
In November, Diane underwent a corneal transplant surgery to restore vision in her left eye. The transplant was successful, and today Diane can see more clearly and her vision continues to improve on a weekly basis. Next year she will undergo a transplant in the other eye.
After her transplant experience, Diane felt it was important to share her thanks with her donor’s family via the Eye Banks’ anonymous correspondence program.
“The fact that someone would do this for me or someone they don’t know- it’s like a soulful experience,” said Diane. “I feel like I am looking through someone else’s eyes. It’s life-changing, and I wanted to reach out and thank them.”
Diane had also experienced a loss when her oldest son was killed in a plane crash while serving in the U.S. Air Force. While she and her family knew that he wanted to be an organ and tissue donor, due to the circumstances of his death while serving our country donation was not an option.
Today, Diane is a proponent of the miracle of organ and tissue donation- not only because of her own experience but because she understands the healing that the very giving act of donation can have for grieving families.