Recipient Stories: Steven
I am a divorced father of two beautiful boys ages 15 and 13. I have been a licensed funeral director and embalmer for 31 years. My hobbies are baseball and reading.
I noticed the eyesight in my right eye becoming blurry about 15 years ago. A few years later I was diagnosed with Keratoconus by an ophthalmologist at the VA outpatient Clinic in Baton Rouge.
The condition really affected my life in so many ways. I would squint so much that people would ask me what was wrong. It was really embarrassing. Parts of my job are very fine and detailed, just like a surgeon’s. With my eyesight like it was, I had a lot of trouble differentiating anatomical structures. As a funeral director, I coordinated and helped Southern Eye bank with corneal donations. I will never forget the first corneal donation I helped with after my surgery. It was such a riveting experience, I started crying. After all those year I never once thought I would be a cornea recipient myself.
My surgeon, Ginny Kullman, M.D., was great. I started seeing her in 2014 and then quit. After three years, I went back to her in 2017. By then, I was at the end-stage of Keratoconus and my cornea was completely cloudy. During the eye exam, I could only see finger motions with my right eye. She informed me that I had to have a corneal transplant, so on February 22, 2018, I had a full-thickness corneal transplant done. The surgery went well with no complications. I had adjusted well to the new cornea and steroid eye drops for anti-rejection.
Since my surgery, my life has been dramatically changed. The colors, edges and shapes of everything are a lot more vivid. When I step off a curb, my sons don’t have to help me. My depth perception has improved a lot. My two boys have said, “Daddy, you can see again.” They still watch me and are very protective of me – a blessing.
It has meant the world to me and my family to have my sight back. Just to be able to read something without squinting is amazing.
This journey has taught me what we sometimes take for granted in life. I am most thankful for the way God has kept me through this journey and has seen me to the end of it. If anyone has perfect eyesight, please don’t take it for granted.
I can now walk outside and see all the colors so vibrant. My boys run up and show me things I that I can see and I know how to respond to them.
To my donor family – If I could even meet you I would say you gave me the most precious gift anyone could ever give. Knowing that your loved one is a part of me is very humbling and an honor. Your loved one has passed on but a part of them can live on through me. God bless you all and thank you for your precious gift to me.
Through the act of donation, my life has been changed forever. There is a whole new world for me to rediscover, memories to recapture. God works in mysterious ways, I count myself as being one of those miracles.