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.

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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:

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.

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