"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 – July 2018

Debbie Maynor received the precious gift of sight through a cornea transplant on May 31, 2018. Debbie’s cornea was donated by a 68-year-old man from central Iowa. She was so grateful for this life-changing gift she sent this thank you letter to her donor’s family:

Debbie Maynor and family

Dear Donor Family,

I have a hereditary corneal disease called Fuch's Dystrophy which causes the cornea to deteriorate and eventually leads to blindness. The only cure for this progressive eye disease is a cornea transplant. Without the generous gift of a human cornea, this surgery would not be possible. I cannot begin to express how humbling and overwhelming it is to know that my sight is completely dependent upon generosity at a time of such great personal loss and sorrow. There really are not words to describe how much this gift means to me and I will be forever grateful for the chance to see.

I am a 55-year-old woman and work full time at a corporate job. I am married and we have two grown boys and two granddaughters. My husband and I love to go out to dinner and listen to local bands in area parks on the weekends. We enjoy working in the yard and we rescue/adopt English Springer Spaniels….they are our kids now!

I am a member of our church choir and have recently pursued a lifelong dream to take horse riding lessons. I go to the barn a couple of times per week and the lessons are the best part of every week! I also enjoy taking a girl’s trip to Colorado every year. I just love the mountains!

The gift of restored sight is amazing. It allows me to continue to do what I love and begin new chapters in my life. I am able to participate with the next generation of our family. I can remain independent as I go into dark places like movie theaters or drive at night and in the rain. I am able to read and see pictures on my phone and computer. All of these things had become increasingly difficult and would eventually be gone for me.

I am so very sorry for the loss of your loved one and nothing can replace them among all who loved them. I can only imagine how difficult this time is now. Please know that your thoughtfulness allows their beauty to continue in the days and years ahead. I too am now blessed by the life they lived and will never forget this gift and how wonderful it is to be able to see the world again.

Thank you!

Debbie was honored to share her letter and photo with ILEB. She hopes it serves as a reminder for those considering donation at often difficult times and hopes it will also be an encouragement to those facing a transplant surgery, knowing that there is hope for a great outcome!

ILEB is proud to be able to be part of this gift of life story and we thank Debbie for sharing her story.

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.