Eversight Orbit Ben Schelke

Learn how Eversight & Gift of Life Michigan work together to maximize donation

Eversight Orbit: From eye banking to tissue donation, dedicated professional continues changing lives

By Caroline Miller, Marketing & Communications Specialist 

Eversight is a community-based network of eye banks serving Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, northeast Ohio, New Jersey and Seoul, South Korea. The need for donated cornea tissues in Eversight’s domestic and international networks is extensive. It provides opportunity for partnership with organ procurement organizations, or OPOs. 

One OPO Eversight partners with to maximize the gift of donation is Gift of Life Michigan. 


Ben Schelke is Gift of Life Michigan’s Donor Operations Manager of their Donor Operations Center. He oversees a team of 38 people who intake death referrals in the state of Michigan and review them for suitability for tissue donation.  

If a donor is suitable for tissue donation, then Gift of Life’s operations specialists will reach out to the family, complete the necessary paperwork and alert their recovery technicians to recover that tissue at the facility. 

“I make sure my team has everything they need to be successful,” Ben said. “Whether that be switching to a new phone system, or making sure that their computer works, I point them in the right direction and help develop them both inside and outside of Gift of Life.” 

Gift of Life and Eversight work together to fulfill donor wishes. When Gift of Life receives a referral, they look at a list of criteria to determine if that donor is eligible for eye donation. If they are, Gift of Life sends the referral to Eversight where our recovery technicians are then dispatched to recover the tissue, starting the process of facilitating the gift of sight. 

“We'll send it over to Eversight and we do all the screening, the conversation with the family, complete all the paperwork,” he said. “Eversight will dispatch their tech if two hours have passed from the time of death and the next of kin are aware.” 

Communication between Eversight and its OPOs is essential to maximizing a donation to its fullest potential. Gift of Life is no different. 

“Eversight is so quick and thorough,” Ben said. “They make sure that everything is great before we even have a chance to thoroughly review it ourselves. That's how efficient the team is over there.” 

The impact donation has on others is one of the reasons Ben loves working in the donation and transplantation field. Last year, Gift of Life had a record breaking 1,858 tissue donors, changing the lives of hundreds of people. 

“The ripple effect that one donor can have, the impact, and how it changes lives and builds on legacies – I love it,” he said. “I absolutely love what we do.” 

Before Ben began his career at Gift of Life, he worked in Eversight’s Donation Support Center for over a decade. 

“Eversight made me the leader that I am,” he said. 

Ben’s favorite story of working in donation happened when he was at Eversight. 

“I had a woman call in on Christmas,” he said. “I answered the phone and she just said, ‘Thank you for being away from your family today. Because of what you do, I was able to watch my kids open presents this morning.’ Anytime I need a reminder of the impact I think of her call.” 

The ripple effect that donation has on others is unmatched and Eversight helps Gift of Life facilitate that. 

“We want to utilize each donor's gift to the greatest of our ability and Eversight fills in a gap that we don’t,” Ben said. “For a lack of a better analogy, Eversight completes us.” 

While working in Eversight’s call center, Ben learned of a pilot who received a cornea transplant and was able to do the job that he loved, flying people around the country.  

“The little things that add up over time, the ripple effect that a ‘yes’ to donation and a conversation with the family has is unfathomable,” he said. 

You can be a part of that ripple effect by joining the donor registry today. Learn more about donation and the legacy it leaves behind. 

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