"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 – Sept 2018

Alex McVicker (Mar 22, 1983 - Dec 6, 2017)

Alex Charles McVicker was born on March 22, 1983, to Thomas and Catherine (VanMaanen) McVicker. Alex was born with severe health issues that he carried throughout his life; however these medical struggles never slowed him down. He was a special and strong person with a unique perspective on life, and overcame many of the challenges he faced.

A picture of an Iowa City Press Citizen article about Charles A. Lucas, cornea donor

Alex attended Kissinger School in Merrill, Iowa. He made many wonderful friends there and thrived under the unconditional support from the teachers and staff. Alex enjoyed putting together puzzles, mowing the lawn for his family, camping, riding motorcycles, and collecting motorcycle and Harley Davidson memorabilia. Alex loved animals and could connect with all he came across. His favorite animals were his two beloved dogs, Katie and Boji.

Alex was a lifetime honorary member of the American Legion Riders and a member of the Independent Riders for Children and Charities where he also held the position of Sergeant of Arms. One of his proudest moments was when he was able to hold the American flag in the honor guard at his much loved grandfather John VanMaanen’s funeral.

Alex will be remembered as a loving, friendly, and family oriented person. He never met a stranger and his family meant the world to him. He was notorious for calling and visiting with family, friends, and even radio hosts, on a regular basis. He loved to visit his brother and sister and was proud to be an uncle. He cherished the time spent with his family; whether working with his dad on plumbing projects, handing out Christmas presents as the official family Santa, or performing his favorite songs (air guitar included) to his family at home. Alex was an amazing son, brother, nephew, cousin, and friend. He is greatly missed.

Alex’s giving spirit continued after his death as he personally made the decision to be a registered donor. Although Alex was extremely near-sighted and legally blind in one eye, a 69-year-old man and a 65-year-old woman, both from Iowa, were given the gift of sight through Alex’s selfless act of cornea donation.

Alex’s mom, Cathy, shared that it brings her peace to know that Alex could bring light to the lives of others even in his death.

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.

Click here to read more of "Four ILEB corneas restore sight in Swaziland"

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.

Click here to read more of "Lions’ efforts in 2007 result in new therapy in 2018"

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.