Working in the field of ophthalmology for over 40 years, Carol Pollack-Rundle has seen the impact of eye donation and its evolution firsthand.
“It brings peace to the families of those who die suddenly, that your loved one has at least helped someone else,” Carol said.
Carol worked at the Kresge Eye Institute in Detroit, Mich., from 1974 to 1976 where she frequently worked with the Michigan Eye-Bank—now Eversight—that provided tissue for cornea transplants. Back then, there was a waiting list, and those on the list were instructed to wait by their telephone for a call from their doctor.
“We would call the first person on the list and say, ‘Can you be here in like, three hours?’ And if they couldn't, we just went down the list until we found that person who could come in,” she said.
The evolution of how patients receive corneas has drastically changed, as have the procedures, equipment and protocols. In the 70s, the refrigerator the Kresge staff kept their lunches in was the same refrigerator that stored eye tissue.
“We had one fridge for our lunches and then there would be these little vials with people's names on them, and their date of birth and date of death,” she said. “You just didn't really think too much about it.”
With four decades of working in ophthalmology, Carol said she has seen the good that the gift of donation has done for people and because of that experience, she would want to have a similar impact.
“It was something that we saw, almost on a daily basis, and it turned people's lives around to get their vision back,” Carol said. “I figure if someone can use my body parts when I'm dead, and I can't use them anymore, why not?”