SOMETIMES...SEEING IS BELIEVING

Cornea Transplant Recipient.  Received cornea age 3; now at age 21.
Cornea Transplant Recipient. Received cornea age 3; now at age 21.

These days, I spend the Christmas season reflecting upon blessings rather than focusing on the worries of life. I am often mesmerized by the twinkling of various light displays and eagerly anticipate the first snowfall of the season. My mind is captivated by the beauty of each tiny, carefully designed, snowflake at it cascades through the glare of a street light. I take time to experience and bask in the glow and warmth of the Christmas tree and find myself fascinated by the lights as they flicker on and off, in silence.

Yes, world, miracles still happen and my daughter is living proof of that. In June 1995, my daughter’s vision was attacked by a rare virus, causing clouding of the cornea which resulted in blindness. Barely, three years old, she was referred to Washington University’s Children’s Hospital in St. Louis, MO. At the time, we were told that the only chance to save her vision would be a cornea transplant and our hope was that she would be able to tell a cat from a dog.

August 24, 1996, a donor was found.Her donor, only 18 years old, yet he and his family demonstrated the ultimate act of love; giving everything he had to someone he had never met so that others might have life or an enhanced life. How can one ever adequately say thank you for such a sacrifice?

As a mom, I was devastated to learn that my daughter would have to endure this. Yet, in the midst of heartbreak and trial, I quickly learned how fortunate we were. Our daughter’s transplant was not considered life endangering as were some of the transplants other children were receiving that day. As several other anxious parents filled the waiting area for news about their little ones; the effects of stress were evident.

The wait seemed like an eternity and thankfully everything went great; however, I was not prepared to see my baby girl in recovery. There she was, so tiny, so fragile, her eye covered with a patch and her arms placed inside braces to prevent her from touching her eye. In addition, IV’s, monitors and other equipment was hooked up to her. We recognized that the long road to recovery was about to begin.

Looking back, a lot of things about that time seem to be blurred; that said, I do know that my prayers were answered. My baby girl, Sarah can see! She plays with dolls, loves music, reads her books and fights with her big brother. Sarah and I now spend much of our time as advocates for organ and tissue donation. It is humbling to realize that as a registered donor, you become a miracle waiting to happen.

Christmas is a time when Christians, like me, celebrate the birth of a miracle more than 2000 years ago. The birth of Jesus Christ paved the way for miracles that do still happen today. Do you HAVE to believe in miracles….no, you most certainly do not. Do I believe in miracles….you bet I do! Faith is believing without seeing; yet in this particular case, I guess one could surmise that Seeing IS Believing!

Side Note: The following article, written from the perspective of a thankful mom, appeared in several newspapers on December 23, 1999. 2011-Sarah is 19 and a Music Performance Major. She is currently celebrating her 16th year as a cornea recipient. She is an outstanding flute player, an avid reader, transposes music, loves to write and drives a car. For information about becoming an organ and tissue donor visit: donatelife.net.


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