Stories of Hope

Jennifer, cornea recipient


Jennifer, a mother to two daughters, Cazmyn (12) and Breya (10), lost her husband to cancer in 2013. Life was chaotic for Jennifer as a single parent. She had a nursing job and was pursuing a master’s degree full time, all while also supporting her daughters’ participation in their many extra-circular activities. For two years, Jennifer worked hard to keep things running smoothly, until a serious health scare posed a challenge that nearly jeopardized her best efforts to achieve a happy life for her family.

In October 2015, Jennifer developed some redness in her right eye while at work. Over the next 36 hours, it worsened and resulted in a trip to the emergency room. Jennifer left with a recommendation that she follow up with an ophthalmologist the next day for what they believed was just an abrasion to her cornea. By the time she had returned home, though, she could no longer see from her eye and a cloudy film covered the entire pupil.

An ophthalmologist diagnosed Jennifer with a very aggressive, severe infection that was traveling back towards the retina. She had an extensive ulcer on her cornea and would require a corneal transplant. Without it, Jennifer’s right eye would be permanently blind.

During the following months, Jennifer was seen by several specialists and kept her eye covered with a patch as they waited for the infection to clear and her eye to recover from the trauma so the surgery could be performed. Jennifer’s depth of perception was altered, and her peripheral vision was gone. Self-conscious about her eye patch and afraid of exposure to bacteria, she suffered a lot of anxiety when going out in public. However, because Jennifer could not to take much time off, she continued her rigorous work and school schedule. A close friend was able to occasionally visit from out of town to help, but it was still a struggle for Jennifer to maintain a normal life.

Six months after the initial infection, Jennifer’s doctor determined that her eye was stable; her corneal transplant took place on April 26. Jennifer was pleasantly surprised to experience very little discomfort and was able to return to work just one week later.

Now over one year post-transplant, Jennifer’s vision has greatly improved, and she is fully able to enjoy all of the things she did prior to the illness: cooking, photography and being her daughters’ biggest fan. “I am able to pursue higher education and advanced nursing degrees due to the fact that I am able to see,” says Jennifer. “Since I am healthy and have regained my confidence, I am striving daily to be the best mother I can be to my precious daughters. My gratitude is immeasurable.”