Cornea Recipients

Please tell your loved one,
"They closed your eyes, but you opened mine."

Corneal transplant recipients are incredibly grateful for receiving the precious gift of sight. When vision is lost or diminished, every aspect of life is affected and quality of life is reduced. A thankful recipient once said, “For so long, I couldn’t look forward to the future because I couldn’t see the present.” Often, when recipients regain their sight, they rediscover an appreciation for the simplest of images. The Iowa Lions Eye Bank is dedicated to providing the highest quality of corneas for their surgeon’s transplant recipients. In addition, the eye bank is committed to distributing the following information, education and personal accounts from those grateful recipients willing to share the successes of their corneal transplants. For more information, please contact Debra Schuett, Family Services Coordinator.


Someone once said, “No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks.” As Family Services Coordinator for the Iowa Lions Eye Bank, it has been my personal experience to communicate with many donor families who have received a heartfelt “thank you” note from a recipient of their loved one’s cornea, sometimes within a week or two of the donor’s death. While still in the midst of their grief, they find comfort and reassurance regarding the decision to donate to help someone, a sense of peace in knowing that their loved one’s legacy lives on through the gift of sight to another, and verification that their loved one’s final gift was indeed received and appreciated by the recipient.

For many years, the eye bank has facilitated written communication between donor family members and cornea transplant recipients, maintaining a policy that respects and advocates anonymity for all concerned. The Family Services Coordinator serves as “the-go-between” to encourage, receive, track and forward all written correspondence. In April of 2010, the Iowa Lions Eye Bank launched a new program, implemented through the Family Services Program, with a goal of providing more immediate information and materials to cornea recipients when saying “thank you” to their donor’s family. The desired outcome of the program was to facilitate more immediate notes of appreciation written and sent by the recipients, directed to the donor’s family.

With this successful program, “Gratitude is the Best Attitude” packets are enclosed with the surgeon’s paperwork and sent with the cornea designated for the patient’s transplant. Attached instructions direct the corneal surgeon to present the packet to the recipient on the day of surgery. Contents of the packet include a unique blank note card and various materials that strongly encourage and instruct the recipient’s timely expression of gratitude to the donor’s family for the gift of sight they have just received. Also included, is a personal letter from Dr. Kenneth Goins, corneal surgeon at UI Hospitals and Clinics and Medical Director of the Iowa Lions Eye Bank, to all cornea recipients: “Through the process of corneal transplantation, you have been given the ‘GIFT’ of sight by the ‘GRACE’ of God, and I am writing this letter to encourage you to show your ‘GRATITUDE’ by writing a ‘thank you’ note to the family of the donor.”

Dan Sorensen

48 year old Dan Sorensen from Utah received the Gift of Sight on March 10th of this year (2015). “Because of the donor and your (Iowa Lions Eye Bank) organization, what could have been a tragedy has become a miracle for me. I have often thought of soldiers who have given their lives that I can have freedom. I marvel at the gift and service that a donor makes when they give themselves that others may see and live.”

Dan received his Gift of Sight through the generosity of a 52 year old lady from eastern Iowa; described by her family as a “hard working Jack-of-all-trades” and who many considered “Mom” because of her kindness and love for everyone. Through the “Gratitude is the Best Attitude” correspondence program of the Iowa Lions Eye Bank, Dan was encouraged to write a “thank you” note to his donor’s family. “I wish you could see how touched my family has been for this gift and how much we appreciate your family and family member.” This extreme gratefulness became evident when Dan included hand-made, hand-written notes of thanks to the donor’s family from his wife and three children within the envelope containing his own heartfelt words of gratitude, mailed to the eye bank just 2 weeks after his successful cornea transplant…

Please view and read their thank you notes below

Note from Dan's 11 yr old daughter

For more information please contact: Debra Schuett, Family Services Coordinator