When someone loses a loved one, it’s difficult to find the good in such a heartbreaking situation. However, for many families, eye, organ and tissue donation has given them a sense of hope. And when those families hear from their loved one’s recipients, it’s particularly rewarding.
In 2010, Carol lost her 30-year-old son, Mark. Unbeknownst to the family, Mark had made the pledge to become an eye donor through Missouri’s first-person consent registry – a move that didn’t surprise Carol.
“Mark was absolutely the most loving person that we know in our family,” she said. “He cared very much about his family – about everybody. He didn’t know a stranger. Mark was never judgmental, gave everybody a fair chance, and always tried to help the underdog.”
As Carol and her family moved through the grieving process, they received a letter from Heartland Lions Eye Banks informing them Mark’s corneas had been provided to two recipients in California. Carol wrote the recipients, introducing them to her son, and soon received letters back from both individuals. One recipient in particular struck a chord with Carol, and the two began corresponding frequently.
Explained Carol, “I can’t say enough about how his words have helped me. This man just amazes me. Even in his last letter, he said, ‘Mark and I had our stitches removed and the good doctor says our vision continues to improve. We are a good fit. There was a moment or two I did feel Mark was there.’ He couldn’t have said anything better to me.”
The recipient/donor family correspondence has not only helped in the healing process for Mark’s direct family, but for his church family as well. Carol has read letters from Mark’s cornea recipient to fellow church members, helping them to find hope desperate situations and encouraging them to follow Mark’s lead by pledging to become eye and organ donors through Missouri’s donor registry.
For Carol, the Eye Bank’s correspondence program has made a difference for her family, and therefore, she urges donor families and recipients alike to consider writing their own letters.
“I know Mark is living through this gentleman. I feel he has Mark in the palm of his hand like another grandpa, and it gives me such a comforting feeling. This man was so generous in his thoughts and words back to my family.
To learn more about writing your donor family or your loved one’s recipient, please read our Connect With Us page or contact the Eye Bank at 800-753-2265.