The life of an ordinary woman, who'd been given an extraordinary gift. The Gift of Sight. This is my story and my life.

Archive for the ‘transplant’ Category

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March is…

…more than just about Saint Patrick’s Day, wearing your green shirt and a Leprechaun hat. It means SO much more to MILLIONS of us, world-wide.

Because, March is National Eye Donor Month in the United State. It is a time to let our donors, known or (in my case) unknown to shine. And to bring awareness to the need for those that are willing to give the Gift of Sight when it’s their time.

Plus, even though Corneal Transplantation is the most performed transplant surgery, globally, and has the highest success rate above ALL other transplants that are performed annually, it is also the LEAST talked about procedure.

As simple as it sounds, undergoing a Corneal Transplant, also known as a Keratoplasty, is NOT a walk in the proverbial park to undergo this kind of surgery. Especially the post-op for months, and yes, even YEARS later. But even then, for us, it is honestly a small price to pay in return for the gift that was bestowed upon us.

Some of us had to have a transplant due to having a coning of our cornea. Some of us had our cornea eaten away from infection. Some also had a perforation due to a traumatic injury. There are several reasons behind needing a Donor’s cornea to replace the one that we were born with.

But no matter the reason behind the need, it is a surgery that none of us will soon, if ever forget.

In the USA, there are states, including where mine was performed, which was North Carolina, that you are not allowed by state law, to know ANYTHING regarding your donor. Not event their gender. In other states, it’s very limited on what information is allowed. And in some, depending on the donor family and the recipient, who in ANY of these cases, must go through the appropriate “channels”, there is an allotment of mostly-full disclosure right off of the bat. It all depends from state to state.

I myself have written to my Donor’s family. I have seriously thought of doing it just once more. Kind of do a little update and wish them well. Nothing too fancy. I never received a reply back the first time, so I certainly am not going to expect one this time, either. And I’m okay with this.

Over in the UK, their Donor Registration is pretty low. For ALL forms of transplantation. As is the case in Australia. Sri Lanka is now the TOP Eye Donor Bank in the world, thanks to most everyone there being an eye donor. They even ship donor eyes to other countries (primarily third world) due to having such an abundance of eye donations.

If only we, the USA could be like this. And not just with our eyes. But with our lungs, hearts, livers and other areas of the body. Can you imagine how many lives we could save? How many people could regain their sight? And how many lives would be enhanced and their quality of live being one of worth living.

And the most wonderful thing about eye/cornea donation? Most (as in about 98%) people from ALL walks of life can become an eye donor! There are very, very few restrictions to be disqualified as an Eye/Cornea Donor. And of course, only the surgeon that is performing the removal of the organs and eyes can indeed make that decision at the time.

The eyes are the most available. But only if you become a Registered Donor with your local chapter of Donate Life America , LifeNet, or an Organ/Eye/Tissue Donation organization near you in your country (if outside of the USA). And of course, let your family and your close friends know of your wishes, so it won’t be too hard on them. And if you become a Hero, be sure to also have it stated in your medical and hospital records, as well.

YOU are the difference. And it is true what they say, in my mind, that the eyes are the windows to the soul. And my soul, along with my heart, made room for another person that I will NEVER meet in this lifetime, but who is with me always. Not only as a physical part of me, but as a piece of my heart as well. My Donor still sees. Through me. And I can see again because they gave the ultimate gift of love. A love to humanity and the will to fight and to live.

This is what Eye Donation, and all other Donations are about. Love. For others, more so than for yourself. To want to help the helpless. To save others.

Please, become an Eye Donor today. Register at Donate Life, LifeNet or at your local DMV office. It’s quick, easy and free. And it’s one of the greatest things you will ever do with your life.

 

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Have A Heart For Donation!

I was considered a “fast healer” . For having such damage and low chance of the graft taking, let alone surviving was deemed by all the medical professionals within my case as a “miracle”. And it indeed WAS a miracle. I could be writing this and only able to see it through one eyeball. Because I would have only had one eye left in my head.

But for me, that fast healing came with a small price (nerve damage, dry eye and infection). But for every stitch removed, I was reminded just how far I still had to go and not to rush getting there. Still today I don’t think too far ahead, because tomorrow could be another problem with it. So I take each day that my gift lasts as an extra day to see again and know that it is always one small step away back to square one, again.

Because it IS a gift. My donor, and/or their family had thought of others and let pieces of themselves live on in others.

These next three months (February, March and April) are going to be busy months for me. Because each of these months, I’ll be promoting Organ/Tissue/Eye Donation in one way or another. For February, I am doing THIS post. For March, it’s going to be another post about Eye Donation Awareness Month (which is in March). Then for the “big one”. April is Donate Life America Month.

So, if you have NOT done so yet, no matter where in the world that you may be, please SIGN UP TO SAVE LIVES. Have a heart for Organ/Tissue/Eye Donation and be someone’s Hero and give the Gift of Sight and/or the Gift of Life when your time comes.

Corneal Stitches

Also known as “Corneal Sutures”, they are sewn in as to ensure that the newly transplanted cornea stays in place and attaches well to the rest of your eye as it is supposed to do.

After the surgeon carefully and skillfully lays the cornea in to position, he/she will thread a specialized sewing needle as to begin the suturing process.

The following is a picture of one of the types of needles that they will use on the cornea. It is called a Kalt Corneal Needle.

They will use the claw-like needle to thread the corneal stitches through to attach the new cornea in place.

There are a couple of different variations as to how the stitchings are done. And every doctor has his or her preference. Plus it also depends on the patient and their needs as well.

One is called “Interrupted”. Which means that instead of a “zig-zag” effect, there is one line stitchings that kind of resemble the lines around the sun from a child’s drawing.

The other suture possibility is called “Continuous”. That type of suturing looks (to me) something like a drawing (yep, I’m stuck on kid pictures lol) that a child made, using the old drawing toy called a Spirograph.

Then there are some cases where the doctor uses BOTH of the techniques. In the same eye. Again, it’s done on a case-by-case basis.

The following is an example drawing of the sutures that I had described above.

Post transplant, over time as healing progresses and all is well, the Corneal Specialist will look over the eye and eventually decide that it’s time to start to remove stitches. But not all are out at once. It’s a gradual and even a bit of a tedious process.

When it’s time, the doctor will ask for his Nurse Assistant to go grab the removal kit. It will have two things in its sterile packaging. A forceps tool and a blade tool.

These are called a “Meyerhoffer Chalazion Curette”. They help (as long as I do indeed have the correct blade) to cut the stitch(es) that the doctor wishes to remove.

The above set of “tweezers” are called “Arruga Curved Capsule Forceps”. And hopefully, I do have the correct pair. Once the appropriate stitch(es) have been sliced loose, then the tweezers are used to (gently) pull the stitch out from the cornea and eye area.

Anyway you slice it (get it?? lol) they must use a blade and tweezers to cut and remove the sutures. They are not dissolve-able. So removal is indeed a must.

There are VERY rare occasions though, that do warrant stitches to stay in place for the patient’s life.

But before that, they will place in some numbing eye drops and use an eye separator. This way, there is no pain and no chance of you closing down the eye as it is being worked on.

The Eyelid Speculum Device is usually metal and looks like the following…

And your eye looks like this after placement….

And no, it does NOT hurt to have it placed under the lids, nor is it painful as it is within the eye area. Cold. That’s about it. But then you have the drops placed in and all is well.

One of my awesome pals from Twitter and Facebook (we initially “found” one another through a friend of a friend on Twitter) has recently had a corneal transplant done, due to having Keratoconus (cone shaping of the cornea). Brooklin (ItsBrooklin on Twitter) is also a professional photographer who does great work with picture-taking.

Earlier in the week, while on a shoot, Brooklin had a buddy take a picture of his eye where all of his stitches were in. For Brooklin’s case, he had BOTH the Continuous, as well as the Interrupted suturing performed on his transplant eye.

First of all, THANK YOU Brooklin for letting me use your eye as a prime example of explanation for this post. You couldn’t have timed posting the picture really any better. And also, dude… You have BEAUTIFUL brown eyes. They are like Amber Brown. My favorite shade of brown.

Well, I hope that this will put your mind at ease, as well as help you to better understand the process of having stitches both placed in, and removed from your eye once you have had a Corneal Transplant. It looks scary to go through. But really, it’s not too bad. Personally to me, the worst part is honestly the speculum.

Rosacea….

Dying Girl Denied A Transplant Based Completely On Mental Disability

There is a little girl in desperate need of a new kidney. Her parents have already been in front of the Transplant Team’s Board, only to be denied of her lifesaving surgery through Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

The little girl is still in a stroller. She is only three years old. And severely mentally handicapped.

And that is what the Nephrology Department specialists and the Transplant Team are basing her denial of services on. Not on the fact that she has a severe case kidney failure or that the family is ready to be tested as viable matches.

Plus, the doctors had stated apparently, that they fear for the little child where anti-rejection medications are concerned. Mainly due to the fact that they COULD cause mental disability. Um… How much worse can this poor child get with already being as mentally handicapped as she is?!

To read the full story, from the parent’s own words of what had happened, CLICK HERE.

I can (sadly) see BOTH sides of that proverbial fence. But on the flip side, to ONLY base the “need” on one specific area, primarily intellectual function is NOT something that I agree with.

As a Transplant Team, they MUST base it on a number of factors. Including not only viability and psychological areas, but on SO many other levels, including the severity of the problem with the kidneys its self.

They did make at least ONE valid point, regarding her age, as well as her need. At her age, and the rate of stability with the new kidney, she is going to need AT LEAST one more, if not two or more kidneys throughout her lifetime. And they will not always be available from family.

And without testing the family NOW, there is NO way of even knowing if ANYONE, including the parents are a match.

But to deny ANYONE, let alone a child of a lifesaving surgery, including a transplant based solely upon a person’s mental disability is just complete and utter bullshit.

"I’m A Survivor"…. My Cornea Donation PSA Video.

Because of my own stupidity and having probably the world’s biggest brain fart, I had to start a new YouTube account. To view it and (hopefully you will) subscribe GO HERE.

It had taken me most of one evening, and a majority of an afternoon to piece together a video that is just over four MINUTES in length. To say I put all of myself in to the project is well, a bit of an understatement. But, here is the finished product.

It’s not as good as some people’s videos/PSA’s . But I think that I got the point across.

Corneal Itch relief…. A Video Tutorial.

Let me first say I HATE my voice lol. And I am not looking my best at the moment, thanks to a stupid Rosacea breakout.

But as I had promised a few weeks ago to a few people, especially @BeaSereneInLife on Twitter, here is the quick tutorial of how to SAFELY relieve ocular itching without compromising your graft.

Well, I hope it helped a bit to know a few new and simple tricks. Let me know what you think of the video and the advice. And if you have ideas for future blog videos, then shoot them my way.

Thanks for watching.