"They’ve given our child the opportunity to be the boy he wanted to be..."

Andrea Carlson, mother to young Joseph who has been diagnosed with Peter’s Anomaly, talks about the life-changing impact of his corneal transplants.

Gift of Sight – Oct 2018

As part of our Family Services Program at the Iowa Lions Eye Bank, we facilitate in the exchange of letters written by grateful cornea recipients and their donor families. The heartfelt letter below is just one example of how corneal transplants greatly improve a recipient’s quality of life. Scott Bowman is from Maquoketa, IA and received his cornea transplant on June 13, 2018 at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

A picture of Scott Bowman, a thankful cornea recipient

Dear Donor Family,

My name is Scott, and I would like to offer my sincere condolences on the loss of your loved one. I am a farmer and retired firefighter who has spent most of my life helping others—never thinking that one day I would be the one needing help.

About a year ago, I began experiencing vision loss for unknown reasons. I was seen by numerous doctors, who after many attempts to help were unable to, thus resulting in my loss of vision. Local doctors then referred me to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (cornea) specialist, but at this point, I was unsure if I would ever be able to see again.

After months of appointments and numerous medications, Dr. Mark Greiner determined a (cornea) transplant was needed. Thanks to your loved one’s generosity, the transplant was a great success. I am now able to see my children and grandchildren, as well as return to farming. Your loved one’s gift of sight has allowed me to live pain free daily, in addition to restoring my vision. The simple things in life, like the sun rising and setting, or my grandchild being born, are experiences your family has given back to me and my family. I am forever grateful to have received this gift from you and your loved one.

Thank you—from myself and my family!

Click here to read more Gift of Sight stories..

Four ILEB corneas restore sight in Swaziland

When former University of Iowa resident and fellow Dr. Matthew Ward needed corneal tissue for transplants during a recent mission trip to Swaziland with The Luke Commission (TLC), he immediately reached out to the Iowa Lions Eye Bank.

Dr. Ward was the cornea fellow at the University of Iowa from 2012 to 2013, and worked very closely with the Iowa Lions Eye Bank during that time. “I consider ILEB to be the best in the business, and feel very fortunate to use ILEB tissue for my patients in private practice,” said Ward.

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Lions’ efforts in 2007 result in new therapy in 2018

Physician clinicians and researchers in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the University of Iowa continue to make important research breakthroughs in the fight to combat Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis (LCA), a genetically inherited eye disease that causes babies to be born blind or children to go blind before reaching school age.

The Iowa Lions have played an important role in making this happen.

In 2007, researchers at the University joined with the Lions Clubs of Iowa to create Project 3000, the goal of which was to find people born blind or adults who became blind as children, test them, and find the roughly 3,000 people in the U.S. with LCA. The researchers worked with other researchers across the country, who also enlisted their local Lions Clubs in the efforts. The Iowa Lions canvassed their own club communities to locate individuals throughout Iowa who might have LCA, and offer them genetic testing.

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The Iowa Lions

Iowa Lions Eye Bank is extremely proud of our close relationship with the Iowa Lions as we work together to restore and preserve sight. The Iowa Lions support ILEB in a variety of ways including a volunteer transport system that has become an integral part of ILEB’s laboratory operations.

Lions Clubs International is the world’s largest service club organization, with 1.35 million members in more than 46,000 clubs. During an address to the Lions Clubs International in 1925, Helen Keller challenged the Lions to become “knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness.” Since that time, Lions Clubs International has worked tirelessly to aid the blind and visually impaired.

You can read more about the Iowa Lions here: Iowa Lions

Who Can Be a Donor?

Anyone can. The great thing about corneal tissue is that everyone is a universal donor. Your blood type does not have to match. It doesn’t matter how old you are, what color your eyes are or how good your eyesight is. Aside from those suffering from infections or a few highly communicable diseases such as HIV or hepatitis, most people are suitable donors.

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