For many young cornea recipients, receiving the “gift of sight” through a cornea transplant can be an anxious and frightening time. Occasionally, the Heartland Lions Eye Banks receives stories about young children who have been very brave in coping with the loss of vision and then regaining it through transplantation. However, once in a while we find a child whose bravery and courage is truly exceptional.

In April of 2003, five-year-old Kevin Lance of Skidmore, Missouri was rushed to the ER after a friend threw a stick that accidentally hit him in the eye. Kevin was immediately sent to Children’s Mercy in Kansas City where he had surgery to repair the corneal laceration. Although the laceration was repaired, the injury left a scar on Kevin’s cornea that blocked his vision.

The year that followed his initial surgery was very difficult as the doctor recommended patching Kevin’s good eye in order to strengthen the vision in the injured eye. Unfortunately, Kevin’s vision continued to deteriorate and his doctor decided that a cornea transplant was needed in order to save his sight. In June of 2004, Kevin, then six, received a cornea transplant.

A few days after the transplant Kevin accidentally ran into his sister while playing, causing one of his sutures to come loose. Due to the accident, Kevin was taken back into surgery the following day to repair the suture. Only a few weeks later, Kevin suffered another setback when his older brother accidentally hit him in the eye with his elbow. This injury caused Kevin more eye problems by rupturing his healing eye. Once again, Kevin went back into surgery where the doctor had to remove the lens of his eye.

Since his last surgery, Kevin’s vision has improved tremendously and his brother and sisters are kept from “rough-housing” anywhere near him. As he continues to heal from the surgeries, his doctors and family anticipate that the next step in his recovery will be an intraocular lens implant as a result of the accidental incident with his brother.

“Kevin has been a very brave little boy through all of this,” said Kevin’s mother, Rebecca. “There were times when I didn’t think I was going to be able to handle everything but after what Kevin has been through and to see how he has dealt with the situation has inspired me.”