Transplant Success Stories

A New Glimpse of the Beauty of the World

 

Some people afflicted by corneal blindness lose their sight due to traumatic injury, some gradually lose their ability to see due to various diseases, and others may be corneally blind from birth.

Regardless of the cause of their blindness, these individuals are unable to see their family, their friends, their world. They may feel like their story is incomplete — until a corneal transplant gives them the opportunity to rewrite it.

Corneal transplants can enrich the lives of people of all ages, helping them reconnect with loved ones, visualize the vivid details of the world, and rediscover their passions.

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A transplant at age 7 changed Alejandro's life

When Alejandro Ortiz was a baby, his parents were concerned. He had blue eyes— though no one else in his family did — and he cried hysterically in the sunlight.

Eventually, Alejandro was diagnosed with a rare corneal condition called congenital hereditary endothelial dystrophy, which made his eyes sensitive to light and blurred his vision. Within a year, Alejandro's vision began deteriorating faster than anticipated — doctors said without treatment he would soon become fully blind.

His parents chose corneal transplantation, and Alejandro underwent the procedure at 7 years old. It was a success: He recovered quickly, and his vision was clearer than ever. Alejandro was thrilled to see bright colors, read books, and join a baseball team.

Congenital Hereditary Endothelial Dystrophy (CHED)1

 

  • • Blurs vision by clouding and thickening the corneas in infancy
  • • Vision loss can range from mild haze to opaque, milky appearance
  • • CHED sufferers are just a portion of the 6 in 100,000 people with congenital corneal opacities

 

 

 

Makisha's transplant helped her reconnect with her daughters

As a child, Makisha Odom was diagnosed with sarcoidosis of the eye, which can lead to corneal scarring and blindness over time. She lived with the condition into adulthood, until she was forced to put her life on hold as everyday tasks became insurmountable.

Sarcoidosis robbed Makisha of her sense of independence — and her ability to drive a car, pursue her dream of becoming a teacher, and participate fully in her three daughters' lives. She felt hopeless and braced herself as complete vision loss became a real possibility.

Makisha met with Florida ophthalmologist Dr. Miguel Lugo, who recommended corneal transplantation. After the procedure and a full recovery, Makisha reconnected with her daughters and with the beautiful details of the world, marveling at rainbows and butterflies, her daughters' smiles — everything.

Sarcoidosis2

 

  • • Can affect almost any organ
  • • Inflammatory cells grow and inhibit organ function
  • • The cause is unknown, but doctors suspect:
    • o   Genetics

    • o   Bacteria

    • o   Viruses

    • o   Exposure to chemicals

 

Today, she encourages others to never take their eyesight for granted. She also recognizes that she would not have gotten her life back without the generosity of those who donated to KeraLink International's Southeast location. "To think that this is all possible due to two people I will never meet is overwhelming," Makisha says. "I am so grateful. This has truly changed our lives."

 

 

 

 

1. Corneal Dystrophy, Congenital Endothelial . University of Arizona Health Sciences website.

http://disorders.eyes.arizona.edu/disorders/corneal-dystrophy-congenital-endothelial-1. Accessed September 14, 2016.

2. Sarcoidosis: symptoms and causes. Mayo Clinic website.

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sarcoidosis/symptoms-causes/dxc-20177970. Accessed September 14, 2016.