Stories of Hope

Patrice, cornea recipient

Patrice’s corneal transplant journey

Cornea recipient Patrice first began experiencing trouble with her eyesight during the summer after first grade. While on a camping trip, a family friend noticed that Patrice kept closing her left eye whenever she was in the sunlight. This began what was to be a years-long effort by Patrice’s parents to determine the cause of a serious eye problem causing her to lose vision in that eye. She was eventually diagnosed with Herpes Simplex 1, a condition affecting the cornea that can cause vision loss and blindness. Antiviral medication stopped the growth of the virus, but irreversible damage had been done to her left eye, leaving her with 20/400 vision, and severe visual impairment. A corneal transplant was Patrice’s best hope.

Patrice received her transplant thanks to the generosity of a cornea donor. She felt the profound impact of her donor’s gift immediately, and her restored eyesight filled Patrice with a sense of gratitude that has not waned for 38 years and counting.

Life as a cornea recipient

Being able to see the details of life has meant that Patrice has been able to take in so much that she would have missed otherwise. Since her corneal transplant, she has been able to see her children smile and fully experience the joys of motherhood. A nature lover, Patrice often travels to beaches and mountains, counting her blessings as she witnesses all of the sunrises and sunsets that she has the privilege to see. At home, she tends her vegetable and flower gardens, including the “memory” flower gardens she has planted in honor of loved ones she has lost. Patrice finds great comfort in seeing those special flowers bloom each spring — something that would not have been possible without her donor.

Recognizing the importance of organ, eye and tissue donation, Patrice encourages everyone to register as donors. She does not take one moment of being able to see again for granted, and she will be forever appreciative of the generosity of her donor and their family who made it all possible.

“I thought about my donor and donor family the first time I laid eyes on my children, and I thought of them the last time I saw my mother and kissed her goodbye,” said Patrice. “I thought of them and thanked them for giving me the joy of experiencing those moments with clear eyes.”