One might call me a veteran of corneal transplants. I had my first corneal transplant in 1966 after being diagnosed with Keratoconus which is a degenerative disorder of the eye.
This was a fairly new procedure at the time and Dr. Eric Smith had me sit before classes of student doctors.
What a difference in procedure and technology. With my first visit, I was in the hospital for 3 weeks even before the surgery and about 10 days post-op. The stitches were 10 times the size they are now and I wasn’t able to work for quite some time. My recovery was plagued with an allergy to the stitches and a great deal of worry and stress which was needless, as the graft in my right eye has proved itself to be extremely strong and resilient through the years. I had 3 (three) more operations in the left eye due to a thinning in the cornea.
At that time, it was an experience that I wished I could have shared with someone as I “watched” the sight improve day by day…..absolutely miraculous!
My latest operation was done in January, 2012 where I (to my horror) learned that I would be awake. Clearly, there was nothing to be so concerned about. I found it absolutely fascinating “watching” the doctor sew the stitches in and listening to the informal banter of the operating room which put me completely at ease. After 3 hours I was released, the sight was restored almost immediately (previously, the sight was slow to return compared to today’s standards) and I was able to drive within a week!
I also sent a “Letter of Gratitude” to the family of the donor and, to my delight, received a reply sending warm wishes for my future as well as tears of sadness and pride for their daughter. I had hoped that we could meet sometime in the future but, it is not meant to be, at least at this time.
I should mention that I had a 3 in 1 which was a corneal transplant, cataract removal and an intraocular insert and my sight is now 20/30!!
In conclusion, I can’t say enough about the Eye Bank, the donors and their families and the good doctors whose incredible skills have given me the gift of sight back, not once but 4 (four) times. I count myself incredibly lucky and want to stress how important it is to donate; whether it be eyes or organs – it really is a win/win situation all the way around!