Saying YES! to donation can change someone’s life
What would life be like if you couldn’t see? Imagine not being able to work, see the faces of your loved ones or appreciate a bright, sunny day. For millions of people around the world, this reality impacts every part of their lives.
But there is hope. For more than 75 years, donors and their families have made our mission to restore sight and prevent blindness possible by consenting to donation. During the recovery process, our highly trained technicians assess, preserve and transport each donor’s gift with care and precision.
And those donations mean everything for the recipients. Evelin Vazquez feared for her sight because of a progressive eye disease, but a cornea transplant using tissue donated from someone she will never know allowed her to follow her dreams and care for her 5-year-old son. Evelin even had the opportunity to meet her donor’s mother—an emotional encounter between two people brought together by the gift of sight. Read more
FAQs about donation
Q: What is a cornea?
A: A cornea is the clear, dime-sized tissue found at the front of the eye. It functions like a window, allowing light to pass through the eye. The cornea does not affect eye color, so transplant patients will retain their original eye color after their surgery.
Q: What is a cornea transplant?
A: A cornea transplant is a surgical procedure that replaces a diseased, damaged or infected cornea with a healthy, donated cornea. Corneal transplantation is the most frequently performed transplant procedure.
Q: My vision is bad. Why would Eversight want my cornea?
A: Your corneal tissue may be completely healthy even if your eyesight is poor. Many causes of vision loss do not affect the cornea. Donated corneas that are not suitable for transplantation can, with authorization, provide much-needed information for researchers or for those being trained in corneal tissue recovery, preservation and evaluation.
Q: Who can be an eye, organ and tissue donor?
A: People of all ages should consider themselves potential eye, organ and tissue donors. Your medical condition at the time of death will determine what can be donated. If corneal tissue is not transplantable due to age or medical condition, the donation can, with authorization, be considered a gift for education and research involving glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration and other sight disorders. These studies advance the knowledge of causes and effects of blinding eye conditions and lead to new treatments and cures.
Q: How do I consent to donate my eye tissue?
A: Become a registered eye, organ and tissue donor by joining your state’s Donor Registry. By joining the registry, you give first-person authorization to donate your eye, organ, and tissue instead of leaving the decision to relatives.
Be sure to discuss your final wishes regarding donation with your loved ones. Family members are consulted at the time of death, and a 10-second conversation today can help them make the important decision to donate when the time comes.
Writing to your loved one’s recipient
Many donor families want to connect with the individuals who received their loved one’s tissue. We can help make that connection by coordinating communication between you and the transplant recipient.
Anytime is a good time to write. Whether it has been weeks or months since the loss of your loved one, recipients are grateful to hear from you.
Suggestions for writing
To protect the privacy of both parties, Eversight forwards letters and cards anonymously—unless both parties sign confidentiality waivers that allow us to share personal contact information.
• Using only first names, tell them something special or unique about your loved one and family in a letter or a “thinking of you” card
• Consider writing about your decision to donate the gift of sight
• Be sensitive regarding religious comments and views since the recipient’s religion is unknown
• Please sign only your first name. Do not use last names, street addresses, city names, phone numbers or names of hospitals or physicians
Mailing your correspondence
Place your card or letter in an unsealed envelope. Include a separate note to Eversight, requesting your correspondence be mailed to the transplant recipient. We will need your full name, phone number and date of surgery. Mail both pieces in one envelope to an Eversight location near you. View locations here.