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Caroline’s Story: Sight Restored

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Dear Donor Family,

My name is Caroline and I am the 52-year-old recipient of your loved one’s cornea. I am writing to thank you for your family member’s gift of not only my sight, but also the light that carries my hopes and dreams. Without this incredible gift I would not be capable of composing this letter today.

Before my transplant, I had been slowly losing my eyesight for several years. My vision loss was caused by an autoimmune disorder that went undiagnosed for over two decades. I was in a great deal of pain every day and had lost almost all my independence. One day I left the house not realizing I had put my clothes on inside out! I was constantly running into things, I had no depth perception and excruciating photophobia. Trying to see the world was like looking through a shattered piece of glass. I was no longer able to work or travel, cook, or even play or read books with my grandchildren. My heart was just broken when on my 50th birthday the doctors told me there was nothing else they could do for me…they said exactly these words…”Maybe someday in your lifetime.”

Almost two years have passed since that diagnosis and today, because of the gift I received, I was able to see my granddaughter for the first time…I mean really see her. My journey has taken me across the country several times and I am at last able to live on my own and read and write (just a little slower). I can take walks by myself and I can bake a magical chocolate cake!

I am having trouble trying to express my overwhelming gratitude, yet keeping in mind the grief that you must still be experiencing. When my Dad passed, I was completely inconsolable, so I want to share a story (true story) with you in hopes that my message of gratitude will be more clear.

“You call me out upon the waters. Your faithful hand will be my guide.”

I was told before the transplant that I would have to wait for my autoimmune disorder to be in “remission” (for lack of a better word) for at least a year before they would consider me as a candidate. As with all autoimmune disorders “remission” is, for me anyway, just another way to say…have your mind, body and heart all on one page. So I moved 2000 miles…to the Atlantic Ocean. I worked on myself and I waited…I even called my place “The Waiting Place.” As I was there off-season, the beach was completely empty…no tourists, just blue skies and beautiful sunrises and sunsets. I felt “safe” walking on the beach although I could not see…occasionally I would walk through fishing lines or a sandcastle without realizing. And it never failed that when I did venture out I would run into that young couple that would ask me to take their picture and I would have to sadly decline. In December, a little over two months post-transplant, I took a walk on the beach. To be completely honest, at that time I was out of eye pain for the first time in over twenty years, however my sight was still much distorted and I was questioning whether or not I had done the right thing. The doctors had all said it was a high risk and that I could lose the eye if the graft was not successful. On that day in December, with NO ONE within miles of me…I walked upon the following message written in the sand.

“You call me out upon the waters. Your faithful hand will be my guide”

One week later, my vision in the operative eye was 20/40.

THANK YOU ALL for this incredible life gift. Because of your compassion… I am a “walking miracle” and my daughter and grandbabies have their “Baba” back.

Fair Winds and Following Seas,

Caroline