Eyesight is something most of us take for granted – until it is lost. Once vision begins to fade, it can affect all aspect of one’s life – from managing duties at work to simply seeing the face of a friend.
Annie of Jackson, Mo. knows the impact of vision loss first-hand. This married mother of two and grandmother of three began experiencing blurred and hazy vision. She had difficulty reading and was unable to recognize people standing in front of bright light. In May 2009, she was diagnosed with Fuch’s dystrophy, a genetic corneal disease that progressively steals one’s sight, in both of her eyes. Her only option for recovery was a corneal transplant using tissue from an eye donor.
On August 5, 2009, Annie underwent an endothelial keratoplasty on her left eye as an outpatient at St. Francis Medical Center in Cape Girardeau. Said Annie, “Surgery was painless, and the recovery was quick. The only hard part was having to lie flat on my back for 24 hours after surgery, but it was worth it. My eyesight has improved so much!”
Since her surgery, Annie’s blurry vision is gone, and she is back to reading. She can even make out the faces of her friends and family once again. Her improved sight is especially helpful since this retired medical secretary continues to work part-time helping others through Comfort Keepers – an in-home service for the elderly.
Like all transplant recipients through Heartland Lions Eye Banks, Annie was offered the opportunity to correspond with her donor’s family. “When I received the letter, I didn’t know if I wanted to do it. But the more I thought about it, I owed it to the donor’s family – to let them know how much they have helped me and how grateful I was. Since then, I’ve received two letters from the donor’s mother. The first one made me shed a few tears. Her son was a young man who owned his own welding shop. She told me anytime you see a spark in your eye, it’s from my son.”
Annie is very appreciative of her donor’s family as well as Dr. Parker and his entire staff. After seeing the results of surgery and the changes it can bring, she is an avid proponent of eye and tissue donation.
“I’ve always thought about donation, but after going through the surgery, it really has made a believer out of me. I would definitely encourage everyone to register as an eye donor.”