As identical twins, Garry and Larry have shared a lot in common – careers in the insurance industry, a love for fishing, and unfortunately, Fuchs’ dystrophy, a genetic disease which slowly stole their eyesight over the years.
The only hope to restore their lost vision would be a cornea transplant in each of their eyes. In a unique twist of fate, the two brothers who shared so many things over the years were about to share something else – a date for their cornea transplants.
For years, poor eyesight had hindered both brothers’ lifestyles. Larry, for instance, was forced to retire early because he could no longer read clearly at work. In addition, the bad eyesight affected their favorite pastime. “My brother and I like to fish, but the Fuch’s made it very difficult,” said Larry. “Trying to tie a hook on to a line – now that was a lengthy process.”
In December 2010, a caring donor family made the heartfelt decision to donate their loved one’s eyes to save the vision of others. The corneas were offered by Saving Sight to Dr. Timothy Cavanaugh of Cavanaugh Eye Center in Overland Park, Kan. who immediately scheduled surgeries for the brothers on the same day.
Larry underwent the surgery on his right eye first, followed by Garry. It was only after the surgeries did the brothers learn their corneas were from the same donor.
While Larry and Garry are still in the recovery process, their sight has improved dramatically. Garry, who had a transplant on his left eye in October 2010, is seeing a significant difference in his eyesight already, and Larry will be undergoing a transplant on his left eye in 2011.
“We’re thrilled with how the transplants have turned out,” said Larry. “We have been dealing with this disease for some time, so the opportunity to get our transplants was wonderful.”
Because of their experience, Larry and Garry encourage others to consider joining their state’s eye and organ donor registry.
Remarked Larry, “When you’re asked at the DMV if you’d like to be a donor, you take it for granted. You think it’s not really a big deal, but it is a big deal to someone else. If you haven’t needed a heart or kidney or cornea, you might not appreciate it. But after getting our transplants, we have a whole new appreciation for what others have gone through.”