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InSights

Caroline’s Story: Sight Restored

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

Pandit Ram: A New Life At 72

Currently, there is no waiting list for corneal transplantation in the US. In many countries, corneas are not readily available, so Miracles In Sight strives to educate those around the world about the importance of eye donation.Through education and training provided by Miracles In Sight volunteers, our sister eye bank, Dr. Shroff’s Charity Eye Hospital, in India, has given sight to many that once had no hope.

This is one such story.

Photo: ©Tony Cervantes
Photo: ©Tony Cervantes

With his new vision, Pandit has a renewed passion for living. Pandit Ram suffered from smallpox at age 7 affecting his left eye. While playing with a knife at age 9, he was stabbed in the right eye.

His perception of light was there. It was the minimal vision he had in his right eye that has gotten him around since his youth, but it was getting worse.

He had lost all hope until coming to SCEH. Surgery in December of 2010 restored some of his vision. So much so that at age 72 he feels he has a new, second life. Not only has his vision been adequately restored, but so has his social zeal and passion for living.

He is thankful to God Almighty and, of course, Dr. Manisha.

 

 

Keeping His Eyes On The Prize – Profile on Dean Vavra by The Triad Business Journal

Dean Vavra Miracles In Sight CEO

Asked to recount his life’s work, Dean Vavra casually calls it a career he “fell into.” But it is clear that fate played a part, from his growing up with three visually impaired brothers to his serving two combat tours in Iran and Afghanistan. He was an ophthalmological technician Army reservist.

Vavra today is CEO of Miracles in Sight, an eye bank that is already the second-largest in the country and growing apace. The eye bank garners revenues of more than $10 million a year and employs 93 workers, 78 of them at its Winston-Salem headquarters on West Point Boulevard.

Read the full article at the Triad Business Journal.

Dean Vavra Miracles In Sight CEO

Triad Business Journal Profiles Triad Employers of the Blind

Industries For The Blind

That two nonprofit companies grew up side-by-side in the Triad is not nearly as surprising as the growth and evolution they’ve experienced in employing those who are blind.

Greensboro Industries of the Blind (IOB) has not only continued, diversified and expanded its traditional lines of commerce, but recently contracted with the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency to warehouse and deliver a wide variety of goods within 48 hours. It’s a move lucrative enough to warrant IOB inking a five-year lease of 108,000 square feet of warehouse space in Greensboro.

Meanwhile, Winston-Salem Industries for the Blind (IFB) is already the largest U.S. employer of the blind and visually impaired in the U.S., and it continues to evolve. In what one employee calls “our best kept secret,” it has installed a full-scale eyewear retail operation that follows the LensCrafters model for providing made-to-order eyeglasses in designer frames.

Read the full article at Triad Business Journal.

Industries For The Blind

Triad Business Journal Profiles Miracles In Sight

Miracles In Sight

While Winston-Salem Industries for the Blind and Greensboro Industries of the Blind are creating jobs for people with visual limitations, Dean Vavra and his colleagues are helping people regain vision — and in many cases return to work.

As CEO of Winston-Salem’s Miracles in Sight, Vavra leads the second-largest of about 75 eye banks in the U.S., a shrinking fraternity of organizations involved in corneal transplants. The Winston-Salem-based nonprofit had about $10 million in revenues last year, and today employs 91 people, 80 of them in Winston-Salem and 11 in South Carolina.

Read the full article at Triad Biz Journal

Miracles In Sight

Tracy’s Little Red Schoolhouse

Tracy Little Red Schoolhouse Donation

Miracles In Sight donated $150,000 to Industries for the Blind to buy two school buses. The buses will be used to transport nearly 100 blind or visually impaired children from Kindergarten through 12 grade to Tracy’s Little Red Schoolhouse for after-school and summer camp activities. Miracles in Sight has given more than $1 million to Industries for the Blind as part of its philanthropy.

Read Article at Triad Business Journal

TracysSchoolhouse

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