In honor of Donate Life Month

april 2- pat and fam at st. pats cathedral
(L-R) Ronnie Schwartz and Julia Rivera and her grand daughter, Angelisse, of LiveOnNY, and Patricia Dahl, Executive Director of The Eye-Bank.

In honor of April being Donate Life Month, we would like to thank all of our donor families on behalf of their grateful recipients for their generous life and sight-saving gifts.

The Eye-Bank for Sight Restoration’s Executive Director, Patricia Dahl, shared the following remarks on April 2, 2016 at “Remember and Rejoice,” the 21st Annual Ecumenical Service at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, hosted by Transplant Recipients International Organization (TRIO), Manhattan Chapter.

It is a tremendous honor to join you here today to celebrate the lives and gifts of so many donors and their loving families together with the fortunate individuals who have received the blessing of renewed health and sight through transplant surgeries made possible with those gifts.

For more than 30 years, I have worked at The Eye-Bank for Sight Restoration, including the last 16 years as the Executive Director/CEO.  In that time, thousands of truly selfless individuals have given the beautiful gift of sight to more than 37,000 New Yorkers – men, women, and children – who would have otherwise been blind.  That is a modern day miracle.

In addition to leaving the gift of sight, countless donors of all ages have given generously of themselves so that others may receive health-restoring heart; lung; liver and kidney transplants. Again, this is a modern day miracle. 

april 2- pat and roth at st. pats cathedral
Patricia Dahl with CNN Correspondent and kidney recipient Richard Roth

The willingness of donors to think of others in need is the beginning of a miracle that would not take place without their kind; generous natures and that of their loving family members who often play a vital role in making donation happen.

Here in New York, we encourage the public to enroll in the Donate Life Registry because that is an important first step to take toward someday being part of a life- or sight-saving miracle.  But donor family participation is still an integral part of the process.  Donor family members often must provide important information about their loved ones in order for donation to occur.  This role is so crucial that The Eye-Bank highlighted donor families in this year’s public service campaign, so all New Yorkers might realize the importance of honoring their loved one’s wishes to donate.   

One announcement, for example, says:

 “Eye Am So Proud.  I didn’t know my sister signed up to become a donor and I was so proud to honor her wishes to give two New Yorkers the gift of sight.”

Today’s special service marking Donate Life Month is a wonderful time to remember and honor those who gave so that someone else’s health and sight could be restored.  In closing, I would like to share one of the many letters we receive each year from transplant recipients who struggle to express just how grateful they are to their donors and donor families for giving them the beautiful gift of sight.

Dear Donor Family:

I am writing to thank you for the kind and generous gift of a cornea donation from your loved one.  I am so sorry for your loss, but I want you to know that your decision to donate has changed my life in a very positive way.

I needed a cornea transplant so I can see.  I had a serious eye infection caused by an acanthamoeba.  My eye was swollen and in a lot of pain.  I wasn’t able to drive, or work on the computer because the glare from the sun and the computer monitor was unbearable.  By the end of this very difficult year, I had lost sight completely in my left eye.

I have three children, my youngest only 4, so it was very hard to take care of him, work, and not be able to see.  I was suffering like this for over a year.

Since the cornea transplant, I am able to see a lot better than before.  I have been wearing glasses and contacts ever since I was in elementary school.  With this new cornea, I can see better than when I was a child.

For this I am very grateful to you and your loved one.  My family and I will always remember your act of kindness and generosity.  I think of you often and pray for the soul of your loved one. 

Thank you,

A Grateful Recipient

I thank you also on behalf of The Eye-Bank and all our cornea transplant recipients.   Thank you… and Rejoice!

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