On April 14th of 2014, 21-year-old Cayd Allen Sapp died unexpectedly in the emergency room at a Waterloo hospital. Cayd was a registered donor in Iowa and his grieving parents supported his decision to donate his corneas and tissues to provide sight and enhanced life to others in need.
When talking with Cayd’s mother Leslie about the cornea recipients who benefitted from her son’s generosity, she said, “He had the warmest brown eyes that would melt a stranger’s heart. You could see true sincerity in Cayd’s eyes.” She lovingly described her son as “a very unique, kind, generous, quirky, thoughtful, down-to-earth, handsome young man who loved his large family unconditionally.”
One of Cayd’s cornea recipients is 84-year-old Faye from northeast Iowa. Faye’s vision was deteriorating from an eye disease called Fuch’s Corneal Dystrophy; a progressive corneal disorder characterized by a cloudy waterlogged cornea, painful epithelial blisters, and reduced vision. Just two weeks after her cornea transplant, she wrote a heartfelt thank you note to her young donor’s family through the correspondence program of the Iowa Lions Eye Bank, “Your loved one donated a cornea so that I can see! I’m writing to tell you what a wonderful gift that was…My vision had become so poor that I was having difficulty reading, and I love to read. I couldn’t read sheet music very well anymore, so my playing piano at the local nursing home was becoming limited. Now it’s been almost two weeks since my surgery and every day my vision improves. The grass has never seemed so green! I am so pleased and appreciative.”
When responding to Cayd’s grateful cornea recipient a few months later, Leslie wrote, “I would first like to tell you how much it meant to me to receive your card. It truly comforted my hurting soul and made my heart smile…Cayd loved music, all types of music; I believe that was his way of relaxing. Cayd’s final gift was to help others and I am so proud of the choice he made in life; it speaks volumes of exactly who my son was…I am very, very happy that my son helped change your life in such a powerful way…I wish you further improvement for your vision and joy while playing beautiful music.”