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Tim's Travels: The Gift of Sight

By: Tim Elliott Email
By: Tim Elliott Email

April is National Donate Life month and to celebrate, the Lions Eye Bank of Wisconsin is urging you to become a donor.

It's a simple process that could end up saving lives. And it's not just organ donation, it's also tissue and eye donation. Becoming a donor not only saves lives but it can enhance lives as well.

“I still think my big brown eyes are my best feature,”

Thanks to a cornea transplant, Erica Singley sees things clearly.

“It's been 29 years and I've had no problems,”

Erica was just 10-years-old when a virus threatened to take away the vision in her right eye. After six months on a waiting list, a donor finally came through.

“That afternoon I was able to see 20/50 without any corrective lenses, that's how quickly the cornea transplants can take effect,”

“We do have over 2,800 volunteers that will transplant the tissue,”

Joyce Kratz works at the Lions Eye Bank of Wisconsin. They help connect donors to their recipients. Often times, she's on the phone with people who lost a loved one just hours after they've passed.

“There's so many different emotions,” said Kratz. “Essentially, it is listening to the family, not talking,”

The eye bank educates family members on the importance of organ, tissue, and eye donations.

“It is the most precious gift a family can give is when their loved one passes way or is about to pass away...when their loved one is an organ donor,”

“You might have tough days, but I can tell you it is the best job ever,” Kratz says with a smile.

Erica doesn't know her donor.

“All I know is that he was a 21 year old male and that's it,”

So to honor his gift, she tells her story to anyone who will listen.

“The more we talk about it, the more we will get people registered and save lives,”

That's why Erica and Joyce want you to get registered as a donor.

“It's a gift,” said Singley.

A gift that you can see in her eyes.

“We can talk about it but when you hear what it's done to someone's life and how it's changed them, it means the world,”

To register to become a donor, visit www.yesiwillwisconsin.com.

Last year, the Lions Eye Bank of Wisconsin played a part in 1,054 cornea transplants.


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