My connection to donation is two sided, as a recipient and a donor. My first experience was toward the end of college I was diagnosed with keratoconus. I finished college and one day while playing tennis I noticed that I was experiencing even more difficulties following the ball. My keratoconus had progressed and I would need a cornea transplant, a strange thing to hear at 24 years old.
The thought of losing my vision was incredibly scary. I can remember realizing the flipside, it would mean a person would have lost their life in order for me to get what I needed. It’s now going on 28 years and counting since the transplant.
My other connection to donation comes from my oldest brother. He became very ill and they discovered that his kidneys had shut down. I can remember instantly thinking, someone you love is sick and needs something and you can help. I kept saying to him, “My kidney is your kidney”. When I got the call saying that we were a match it was a relief and it was exciting. I remember right before the surgery, in December, 2016, we were in the hospital room and I just kept saying, “We got this”. Both our surgeries were a success.
That surgery took place on a Monday and every Monday since then, I get a text from my brother that says “TYFMNK!” which stands for, “Thank you for my new kidney!”. I always reply, “TYFNMK” which is “Thank you for needing my kidney!” and I really mean it. He got the kidney, but I got the gift. It changes you. You see everything through a different lens, cornea pun not intended.
Donation is so important for all the obvious reasons but there is no gift you can give that feels as good when you see the outcome. On the recipient end, I’ve had almost 30 years with this cornea that has allowed me to see, I don’t even think about it anymore. I hadn’t thought about it in years until someone pointed out that it was really cool that I was a donor and a recipient. It makes you think. It has made my life so much better that I didn’t even realize that it happened.
Cornea Transplant Recipient & Living Kidney Donor