Fall/Winter, 2008

                                                                             CarrIe’s LegaCy
   A Publication of Midwest Eye-Banks

           dan reynoLds
        Communications Manager

Lions Golf Benefit
20th Anniversary
with “20/20” Outing
The Michigan Eye-Bank was both benefactor and benefic...

  Eye-Bank volunteers take Donor Registry message to the streets
  When the Donate Life Coalition of...


  Parents keep donor’s memory alive

Cornea transplant recipient gives
back to th...

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Vision Fall Winter 2008 Issue


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Pedal Power: Cornea transplant recipient gives back to the Michigan Eye Bank p.7

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Vision Fall Winter 2008 Issue

  1. 1. VISION Fall/Winter, 2008 CarrIe’s LegaCy When Carrie Jane smith became an eye and tissue donor, her family turned tragedy into hope. Inside: I Joined! The Eye-Bank gears up to make Faith communities engage in Donor a big difference in state Donor Registry Sabbath participation Cornea transplant recipient’s passion Illinois Eye-Bank supplies eye tissue for for biking raises funds for the Michigan humanitarian mission to Sudan Eye-Bank Golf Outings benefit the Illinois Eye-Bank A Night for Sight and other upcoming and the Michigan Eye-Bank events MIDWEST EYE-BANKS • 4889 VENTURE DRIVE • ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN • (800) 247-7250 • W W W. M I D W E S T E Y E B A N K S . O R G
  2. 2. VISION A Publication of Midwest Eye-Banks dan reynoLds Communications Manager stePhanIe tossey Communications Associate aMeLIa skIMIn Staff Journalist MIdWest eye-Banks 4889 Venture Drive Ann Arbor, MI 48108 Toll-Free: (800) 247-7250 Main Line: (734) 780-2100 Administrative Fax: (734) 780-2143 Finance/Billing/Accounting Fax: (734) 780-2142 Scenes from the Green Corporate Tissue Distribution Hotline: (734) 780-2101 ILLInoIs eye-Bank Illinois Eye-Bank hosts 11th Annual Golf Outing A Division of Midwest Eye-Banks 547 West Jackson Blvd., Suite 600 Chicago, IL 60661 Toll-Free: (800) 548-4703 Main Line: (312) 706-6750 Successful executives have always known that golf means Administrative Fax: (312) 706-6760 business. A day on the golf course is often as crucial as a day at Laboratory Fax: (312) 706-6761 the office. Competition can be fierce, but subtle; the winners keep their cool as they keep score. In the case of the Illinois Eye-Bank’s annual Golf Outing, golf ILLInoIs eye-Bank, Watson gaILey means fundraising… and the winners are the vision-impaired A Division of Midwest Eye-Banks people who will ultimately get the help they need because of the 1717 R.T. Dunn Drive, Unit 201-7 funds raised by this charitable event. Bloomington, IL 61701 Toll-Free: (800) 548-4703 “The money we raise supports our research and education Main Line: (312) 706-6770 programs,” says Chuck Pivoney, Midwest Eye-Banks’ Chief Fax: (309) 828-6347 Operating Officer, and head of the Eye-Bank’s Illinois operations. “We also use this funding to help people who couldn’t otherwise afford a transplant when the need arises.” LIons eye Bank of neW Jersey The course at the prestigious Inverness Golf Club, which A Subsidiary of Midwest Eye-Banks hosted the outing, was designed in the ‘20s, although both the 841 Mountain Avenue course and the clubhouse have been substantially updated and Springfield, NJ 07081 renovated in recent years. The outing also featured dinner and a Toll-Free: (800) 653-9379 silent auction. Main Line: (973) 921-1222 Fax: (973) 921-1221 MIChIgan eye-Bank A Division of Midwest Eye-Banks 4889 Venture Drive Ann Arbor, MI 48108 Toll-Free: (800) 247-7250 Main Line: (734) 780-2100 Administrative Fax: (734) 780-2143 Laboratory Fax: (734) 780-2111 Midwest Eye-Banks is a 501(c)(3), independent, not- for-profit organization dedicated to the restoration of sight. Through our locations in Illinois, Michigan and New Jersey, we recover, evaluate and distribute eye tissue for transplantation. Our Eye and Vision Research Program supports research into the causes and cures of blinding eye conditions. We also provide public and professional education on topics related to eye, organ and tissue donation. Page 2 | V I S I O N | Fall/Winter, 2008
  3. 3. Lions Golf Benefit Commemorates 20th Anniversary with “20/20” Outing The Michigan Eye-Bank was both benefactor and beneficiary of the Ann Arbor (Host) Lions’ 20th Annual Golf Benefit, held in July at the prestigious and private University of Michigan Golf Course in Ann Arbor. This year’s benefit was special for many reasons, according to Dan Reynolds, the Eye-Bank’s Communications Manager and active member of the Ann Arbor (Host) Lions. “The 2008 outing was an expression of the long-standing partnership between the Lions and the Michigan Eye-Bank,” he says. “A number of dedicated Eye-Bank staff members pitched in to help organize the event, and to volunteer at the golf course. And, in turn, the Lions Club agreed that proceeds should be used to support the Eye-Bank’s mission.” The Ann Arbor (Host) Lions Club was directly responsible for originating the Michigan Eye-Bank in 1957. In addition to signifying clarity of vision and restored sight, the golf benefit’s “20/20” theme was meaningful for other reasons. “It was the 20th anniversary of the event, and our goal was to raise twenty thousand dollars,” Reynolds explains. “Although we were unable to reach that goal, we were able to keep the event alive for the Lions Club and for the many charities it supports, including the Eye-Bank.” Reynolds cites a difficult Michigan economy and holiday scheduling conflicts as likely reasons for the modest participation level, but he says the outlook is bright for next year. The 2009 Golf Outing will take place earlier in the season – Monday, June 22 – to avoid conflicts with the Fourth of July holiday. “We are also giving serious consideration to restructuring the event… to encourage participation by lowering golfer fees,” Reynolds adds. “The Lions have to stay competitive with other charities and less costly outings, but we do want to continue offering people the opportunity to golf at this great course.” To learn more about the Ann Arbor (Host) Lions Club and its annual Golf Benefit, or for information about joining your local Lions Club, contact the Longtime Michigan eye-Bank volunteer and Eye-Bank’s Community Engagement Manager at cornea transplant recipient Patrick Pruitt tells (800) 247-7250, ext. 135. his own story, reminding golfers that their participation supports the sight-restoring mission of the Lions and the eye-Bank. The 21st Annual Ann Arbor (Host) Lions Golf Benefit takes place Monday, June 22nd, 2009. Precious cargo Illinois Eye-Bank supplies eye tissue for humanitarian mission to Sudan Chicago-based ophthalmologist Dr. Richard Gieser has traveled all over the world to perform vision-saving surgeries and offer training to local doctors. However, he also has another role that may sound less prestigious, but is just as important: courier. Gieser, who specializes in retinal-vitreous disease, has transported corneas donated by the Illinois Eye-Bank and several others to Sudan for transplantation on six separate occasions. His most recent trip was in May of this year. On that trip, he brought 20 corneas donated by the Illinois Eye-Bank. The Eye-Bank’s single gift of 20 “The trip was uneventful in that security did not ask corneas matched the total number to open the box,” Gieser of eye tissue the country had wrote in a thank you note to Midwest Eye-Banks received in all of 2007. President and CEO Kevin Ross. “I always get unusual glances when walking through the Left to right: drs. salim and nabila with dr. richard gieser, on a humanitarian mission airport carrying a box that says ‘Human Eye Tissue’.” to sudan in october, 2007. Midwest eye-Banks provided eight corneas for this trip, and then provided 20 more corneas for the following trip in May, 2008. In Sudan, Gieser was greeted by Dr. Nabila, an ophthalmologist in Khartoum, who distributed the eye tissue to four local corneal specialists. Within 36 hours, the corneas Gieser had carried He hopes to return to Sudan, one of more than a dozen countries he has visited to share his with him from Chicago were transplanted, offering the hope of restored vision to 20 Sudanese medical expertise, in January. Gieser has spent between two and six weeks abroad every year people. since 1975. He chooses his locations based on where he thinks his skills can do the most good, and he only goes to places where he has been invited. According to Gieser, the need for corneas in the area is great because some local religious leaders tell their followers that if they donate their deceased family members’ eyes for “In America, we have so much,” he says. “I think we’re all supposed to give, and the most transplant, they won’t have eyes in heaven. Hundreds of people are on the waiting list for precious thing we have to give is time.” corneas. The Eye-Bank’s single gift of 20 corneas matched the total number of eyes tissue the country had received in all of 2007. “I cannot thank the Eye-Bank enough,” says Gieser. Fall/Winter, 2008 | V I S I O N | Page 3
  4. 4. MIDWEST EYE-BANKS Eye-Bank volunteers take Donor Registry message to the streets When the Donate Life Coalition of Michigan challenged the leaders of member The campaign, launched by Midwest organizations to offer their own resources to promote organ donation, Midwest Eye-Banks Eye-Banks this summer, is a grass-roots CEO Kevin Ross was inspired by the history of the Eye-Bank, and met the challenge head- initiative to get the word out about the on. importance of signing up on your state’s organ donor registry. By putting your “Kevin’s bold offer…was to do all that he could to engage the Lions in promoting the name on the Illinois, Michigan or New Organ Donor Registry,” says Lisa Langley, Midwest Eye-Banks Community Engagement Jersey Donor Registry, you give first- Manager. person consent to donate your organs upon your death, instead of leaving the In a way, it was history revisited. When the Michigan Eye-Bank was formed in 1957, decision to relatives. local Lions Clubs were asked to go into their communities and talk about the Eye-Bank’s “We’ve reached the point as a society where mission. It was a difficult task because cornea transplants were still new, and other types the eye-Bank works with motor vehicle and secretary this needs to develop from something that a of transplants were still years in the future. of state offices throughout its service area to Plus, cornea transplants dealt with two taboo encourage participation in state donor registries. issues: death and touching people’s eyes. “Allowing somebody into that sacred space took more than just medicine,” says Ross. “It few people think about to something that we A major component of the I Joined! initiative is the training it offers people – chiefly Lions Club took the Lions Clubs saying it was something we ought to do.” all stand ready to do for each other.” members, during this initial phase – to go out into their communities and give presentations about joining the Donor Registry. It was a successful campaign; in the “We’ve reached the point as a society where this needs to develop from something that a few years since the Lions people think about to something that we all stand ready to do for each other,” Ross added. of Michigan first By training community members to give presentations, awareness of organ donor registries teamed up with the can grow exponentially – it’s not just one person telling one person, it’s one person reaching Michigan Eye-Bank, a whole group. cornea transplants At the training session, presenters are given kits to take with them when they give have become the most presentations within their own community groups. The kit includes a Presenter’s Guide common type of with background information on the state Donor Registry, as well as tips on how to give transplant operation the presentation. It also includes I Joined! literature to be handed out, a special DVD to performed in the Midwest eye-Banks’ Board of directors is taking an active role in encourage Donor Registry participation, giveaway items, even an I Joined! shirt to wear United States. promoting I Joined! within their own communities. while presenting. Donor registration forms are also provided, where available. On top of that, the Eye-Bank will offer a limited number of audio-visual kits, including portable DVD “Fifty years later, we’re asking the Lions to get out there and rally their communities projectors and screens, to its presenters. again,” says Langley. Only this time, the campaign will encompass all of the areas served by Midwest Eye-Banks – not only in Michigan, but also in New Jersey and Illinois. The Illinois Eye-Bank, the Lions Eye Bank of New Jersey and the Michigan Eye-Bank set Its name: “I Joined!” their own goals for the program, as detailed on the next page. What is the New Jersey Hero Act? The New Jersey Hero Act was signed into law on July 22, 2008 by Senate join the registry, as a condition of receiving or renewing their driver’s licenses. President and acting Gov. Richard Codey, making New Jersey the first state in the union to advocate that its residents have the fundamental responsibility to As an educational component of the Hero Act, each public high school choose whether to help save another person’s life through organ donation. in New Jersey will be required to ensure that information about organ and tissue donation is included in the Core Curriculum Content Standards for The legislation changes the state’s previous policy toward organ donation from Comprehensive Health and Physical Education, for grades 9-12, starting with the one of general support to one of advocacy, encouraging positive donation 2009-2010 academic year. decisions as vital to saving more lives. Starting that same school year, public colleges and universities will also be The Hero Act creates a more dynamic and comprehensive public policy in required to provide similar information to students, either through health services regards to organ and tissue donation and includes mandated decisional and or as part of the curriculum. New Jersey medical schools and professional educational components. Under the Hero Act, New Jersey residents have the nursing programs’ curricula will include required instruction on eye, organ and right to register as eye, organ and tissue donors when receiving and renewing tissue donation and recovery. Similar training will be offered for continuing their driver’s licenses or state identification cards. education credit to doctors and nurses. The Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) must also provide an online portal Physicians licensed prior to the Hero Act will be encouraged to complete for residents to register as donors by April, 2009. Paper donor cards must be an online, credit-based course within three years. Nurses will be required to available at MVC offices by July, 2009. Once received, both online and paper complete an online, one credit hour course within three years in order to be submissions must be immediately incorporated into the Donate Life NJ Registry. relicensed. Also by July, 2009, the Donate Life NJ Registry Web site and the MVC’s official Web site will provide links for people to make voluntary contributions to the Lions Eye Bank of New Jersey Executive Director Margaret Chaplin is expecting Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness Education Fund. the number of first-person consent donors to increase as a result of the Hero Act. “I think that down the road, it will help to make organ donation part of the norm Additionally, starting in five years, all New Jersey drivers will review basic facts rather than the exception, since everyone who goes to renew his or her license about the organ donation decision and its impact prior to deciding whether to will be asked about their donation decision,” Chaplin says. Page 4 | V I S I O N | Fall/Winter, 2008
  5. 5. D E D I C AT E D T O T H E R E S T O R AT I O N O F S I G H T Quick Facts about Donor Michigan Eye-Bank Registration in Illinois, The Michigan Eye-Bank trained its first group of presenters – Eye-Bank staff members and Lions Club members – in Michigan and New Jersey August. The Michigan Eye-Bank’s goal is to present I Joined! to all 562 Lions, Lioness and Leo clubs throughout the state by the end of 2009. MICH IGAN ILLINOIS Michigan Lions Clubs who have 100 percent of their members document their organ donation EYE-B ANK A law, effective Jan. 1, 2006, makes a wishes will receive a special “100% Club” patch for the club to display. Documentation can either person’s wishes to be a donor legally be made by joining the Michigan Organ Donor Registry, or by creating a valid document of gift, binding. To ensure that your wishes are followed, you must join the new registry. stating individual gifts or restrictions, which could include the desire not to be a donor. 2008 - 200 Illinois Donor Registry 9 Lions Eye Bank of New Jersey The Lions Eye Bank of New Jersey faces a unique challenge in that residents are not yet able to join the New Jersey registry online. (The Hero Act will change this, see preceding page for more information.) “We have to tell (people) to go to the Motor Vehicle Commission office,” explains Margaret Chaplin, Executive MICHIGAN Director of the Lions Eye Bank of New Jersey. In lieu of an online Donor Registry portal, people can also sign up Laws effective Jan. 1, 2007 require the online for notification about when an online registry will become available. Department of State to inform anyone applying for a driver’s license or state ID Twenty-four percent of New Jersey drivers have joined the Donor Registry when renewing their driver’s license at a card about the Michigan Organ Donor Registry. The department also must place a state MVC office. Unfortunately, if a person is not renewing his or her driver’s license when he or she goes to join the heart insignia on the driver’s license or state Registry, there’s an $11 fee to make a change to the license. The Lions Eye Bank of New Jersey has made it a goal to ID card of anyone who enrolls on the registry reach all Lions Clubs in the state by end of 2010, to ask for their help in increasing Donor Registry participation. The to designate his or her wishes to be an organ donor. If you don’t have a heart sticker, you recently-passed New Jersey Hero Act will help with this goal. must sign up on the new registry. Under the Hero Act, in five years, all New Jersey residents applying for or renewing a driver’s license will review basic Michigan Organ Donor Registry facts about organ donation prior to deciding whether to join the Registry. The Hero Act also dictates that the state must provide online registration for donors that will be immediately incorporated into the Donate Life New Jersey Registry by July, 2009. NEW JERSEY Another important component of the Hero Act is its mandate that public high schools must educate their students Legislation since 1998 provides that about organ donation, starting with the 2009-2010 school year. Chaplin believes this will help I Joined! in the future. documented intent of a person to donate organs or tissues upon death shall not “By the time I Joined! reaches (current high school students), they’ll already know about organ donation,” she explains. be revoked by any person otherwise designated to consent to such donation. For more information on the new New Jersey Illinois Eye-Bank and Illinois Eye-Bank, Watson Gailey Hero Act, see story on page 4. New Jersey Donor Registry In Illinois, which has the fastest growing donor registry in the country, the Illinois Eye-Bank and the Illinois Eye-Bank, Not yet available online. Sign up for updates Watson Gailey have set a goal to reach 36 Lions Clubs, as well as other community organizations, by the end of 2009. at Be sure to join the Donor Registry during your According to Midwest Eye-Banks Chief Operating Officer Chuck Pivoney, because the relationship between the next visit to a New Jersey MVC Offce. Illinois Eye-Bank and the local Lions Clubs is not yet as strong as in Michigan and New Jersey, the goal is more modest. Pivoney expects that I Joined! will help build the relationship. “This project is an opportunity to engage Illinois Lions with Eye-Bank efforts,” he explains. JOIN NOW! Visit our I Joined! Although Lions are among the first to carry the I Joined! program into their own communities, the program can be home page today at given by anyone, to any community group. For more information on becoming an I Joined! presenter, contact Lisa Langley, the Eye-Bank’s Community Engagement Manager, at (800) 247-7250, ext. 135, or for a quick link to join your own state’s Donor Registry. National Donor Sabbath Eye-Bank offers guidelines for religious leaders Every major religion in the United States accepts eye, organ and tissue The guide is part of a joint effort between the Michigan Eye-Bank, Gift of donation as a good and charitable thing, but not everybody knows Life Michigan and the Donate Life Coalition of Michigan to raise awareness that. about National Donor Sabbath. “Some people are uninformed; they’re not sure how their faith The Lions Eye Bank of New Jersey (LEBNJ) also has plans for National Donor feels about eye, organ and tissue donation,” says Lisa Langley, Sabbath. Community Engagement Manager for Midwest Eye-Banks. “We will be sending out a joint letter with the New Jersey Organ and To help people better understand where their religion stands Tissue Sharing Network to approximately 400 faith leaders, as well as to on the issue of donation, the transplant community teams the New Jersey Council of Churches, New Jersey Catholic Conference up with the religious community every year for National and other religious affiliations, encouraging them to participate Donor Sabbath. This year, National Donor Sabbath will be in discussions on donation with their congregants,” says Margaret recognized November 14-16. Chaplin, Executive Director of the Lions Eye Bank of New Jersey. For the past several years, the Michigan Eye-Bank has Additionally, LEBNJ is planning to have a presence at local places of created a resource guide for clergy to use during worship to get the word out about organ donation. National Donor Sabbath to address eye, organ and tissue donation. The guide includes sample sermons, To request a copy of An Organ, Tissue and Eye Donor Resource Guide scriptures, texts, inspirations, different theological for Faith Leaders for your faith leader, contact Lisa Langley at (800) 247- viewpoints on donation, frequently asked questions and 7250, ext. 135, or facts about donation. Fall/Winter, 2008 | V I S I O N | Page 5
  6. 6. MIDWEST EYE-BANKS RED SHOE LEGACY Parents keep donor’s memory alive eye and tissue donor Carrie smith Carrie Jane Smith was only 28 when she committed suicide in May, 2002. was an avid runner. her passion for running, and her trademark red shoes, were the inspiration for the She had been diagnosed with depression that she experienced on and off for years. Still, she red shoe run, a successful annual managed to get a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology – an off-shoot of physical therapy that fundraiser in rockford, Illinois. involves muscle motion and athletic training – from the University of Wisconsin. She went on to receive a Masters of Science Degree from the University of Illinois, Chicago. At the After two months of exchanging letters, Helen and her daughter did meet the Smiths. They time of her death, she was working for the University of Illinois’ neurology department, were invited to the Smith family’s annual picnic, an event held every summer at a state park researching Parkinsonism, the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. She was also employed by near Rockford. It had been stormy, but when they met, the rain stopped. The family learned the Arthritis Foundation. that Helen had received Carrie’s cornea on the day of Carrie’s funeral. “It takes a lot of courage for people to accomplish what she accomplished, while still, at Charles looked into Helen’s eyes, “…hoping to see some reflection of Carrie,” he times, struggling against depression,” says Carrie’s father, Charles Smith. remembers. “It’s a comforting imagination for the moment. You don’t see Carrie, but your imagination runs wild.” Carrie had told her parents that she wanted to be an organ donor. She had also signed her driver’s license to indicate her wishes. Before Carrie’s death, Charles and his wife, Bobbi, Helen told the Smiths that she thinks of them as her additional family. “I think it’s a valuable notified the hospital personnel of Carrie’s choice. Carrie’s corneas and certain tissues were experience to communicate with the donor family and the recipient family,” Charles says. determined to be suitable for transplantation, even though her other organs were not. When “They both benefit from that kind of connection. Anything that connects us back to Carrie the Smiths left the hospital, they were hopeful that their daughter would be a cornea and is comforting and useful. And right at that time, the grief was still very intense.” tissue donor. To help deal with their grief, the Smiths also organized a memorial non-profit 5K race in “Donating has softened our grief at times,” says Charles. “Knowing how much Carrie had honor of Carrie, an avid runner and triathlete. They named the race the Red Shoe Run for emphasized her desire to contribute that way, donating is a continuation of Carrie’s legacy – Donor Awareness because of the red shoes Carrie always wore. her nature. It’s comforting.” The Smiths met Jan Eschen of Donate Life Illinois and she put them in touch with her Two people received Carrie’s corneas, and as many as 20 others received her tissues. One of friend, Barb Berman, a long-time run organizer who had experience organizing fundraising the people who received a cornea from Carrie was Helen Slusher who, at age 76, still drove events for the Arthritis Foundation. Fundraising was a new experience for the Smiths – herself between Glen Ellyn, Illinois and her winter home in Arizona each year. Helen knew Charles is a retired physician, and Bobbi is a nurse manager. she needed to do something about her vision when she couldn’t pass her driver’s test. With guidance from Berman, they joined forces with the local running club and found sponsors, including the Illinois Eye-Bank, the Gift of Hope Organ and Tissue Donor Network, the Rock River Valley Blood Center and the National Marrow Donor Program. In the years since it began, the race has grown to 400 runners and walkers who pay entry fees and gather donations. This year, the Red Shoe Run raised $32,000. Helen, her husband, Floyd, and her daughter Linda attended the first Red Shoe Run event. At the inaugural event, which had 250 participants between the ages of six and 70, Helen shared her story with the crowd. Even runners who had finished the race stayed after to hear Helen’s tale. The money raised through the Red Shoe Run for Donor Awareness is used to pay the cost of tissue-typing for those individuals that want to donate their bone marrow to save someone’s life – a process that is managed by the Rock River Valley Blood Center’s Marrow Donor Program. Since the race began, the number of willing donors in the Rock River Valley area has increased by more than 6,000. But the Smiths’ philanthropic outreach doesn’t end there. They also started Group Hope, a registered non-profit, volunteer-led support group for depression and bi-polar illness. The group is open to anyone in the Rockford area. Before her death, Carrie had tried to find a similar support group without success. Charles and Bobbi smith with helen slusher at the five Points of Light Bike event, sharing Carrie’s story. For her part, Helen has been traveling the world. Since her transplant, she has been to “I was bumping into people,” Helen recalls. “I was walking, falling and tripping. I missed Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, Singapore, Laos and Vietnam. “I could see birds and the last step in a Las Vegas casino and down I went.” mountains, all the beautiful scenery I couldn’t see before – and the colors!” she exclaims. “Before, it was all a blur.” A few weeks after Carrie’s death, the Smiths received a letter from the Illinois Eye-Bank, letting them know that Carrie’s corneas had been recovered successfully and had offered a Even though her travels take her all over the world, Helen still keeps in contact with the second chance for sight to two patients. They also learned that it is sometimes possible for Smiths, mainly through E-mail. “I know they need me as much as I need them,” she says. transplant recipients to communicate with donor families. Meanwhile, Helen was praying that she would find out whose cornea she had received. “The identities of donors, their families and transplant recipients must remain confidential For more information: unless each party agrees to waive confidentiality,” explains Kara Kelly, Manager of Public and Professional Education for the Illinois Eye-Bank. “The Eye-Bank works as an The next Red Shoe Run for Donor Awareness will be intermediary to facilitate communication between the parties. They can simply send an held on April 11, 2009. To learn about the Red Shoe anonymous letter of thanks… or, if they choose to disclose their identities to one another, Run or to participate, visit we have them sign a confidentiality waiver and help to put them in touch.” For information about Group Hope, contact Charles Smith at (815) 398-9628. Page 6 | V I S I O N | Fall/Winter, 2008
  7. 7. D E D I C AT E D T O T H E R E S T O R AT I O N O F S I G H T PEDAL POWER Cornea transplant recipient gives back to the Michigan Eye-Bank Gary Abud, Jr. was only 10 years old when he was diagnosed with Keratoconus, a degenerative disease of the cornea. For years, he relied on glasses and hard contact lenses to help him see, but eventually his vision deteriorated to the point where a cornea transplant was his only treatment option. So, in May, 2007, Gary underwent surgery at the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center in Ann Arbor to have his first cornea transplant. A year later, he had a transplant in the other. “I’m doing great,” Gary told the Grosse Pointe News a week after his second transplant. “My vision in that eye has already improved to 20/60, and I’ve had no problems at all. The vision in the eye that was done last year is now 20/30. I couldn’t have asked for more.” He was so happy with the results of his transplants that he wanted to find a way to give something back to the Michigan Eye-Bank. “Gary joined our Ambassador Program,” explains Lisa Langley, Community Engagement Manager. “Ambassadors are usually donor family members or transplant recipients who volunteer to support the Eye-Bank’s mission because it has touched their lives. “Gary was driven to do something more.” gary abud, Jr. first became passionate about indoor cycling, or ‘spinning’, when vision problems made it nearly impossible for him to bicycle outdoors. Local restaurants donated food for participants, and Michigan Eye-Bank staff members were on hand to provide information about the Eye-Bank and accept charitable contributions. The Ride-A-Thon also included a silent auction with items like jewelry, Stevie Wonder concert tickets, University of Michigan football tickets, gas cards, an eye exam and orthodontic treatment. In all, Gary raised more than $5,000, including a $500 donation from St. Clair Specialty Physicians P.C. and a $1,000 donation from the Grosse Pointe Lions Club. He presented a check to Eye-Bank CEO Kevin Ross on June 30. “Gary has taken our mission and made it his own,” Ross said. “I can’t thank him enough for giving back to the Eye-Bank in such a personal, meaningful way.” Both Gary and the Michigan Eye-Bank hope to make the Ride-A-Thon an annual event. For more information about becoming an Eye-Bank Ambassador, or to participate in upcoming gary leads the group as the first-ever ride-a-thon benefit gets underway in st. Clair events, contact Lisa Langley at (800) 247-7250, ext. 135, or shores, Michigan. Giving back is nothing new for Gary, who graduated from Wayne State University in 2006 with the intention of going to medical school as a way to help people just as he had been helped. But a friend pointed out that teaching seemed to be a recurring theme in Gary’s life. It was true: Gary was an indoor cycling (also known as “spinning”) instructor, taught piano lessons and tutored schoolchildren. Gary realized that teaching was his true passion. He enrolled in the accelerated graduate program in education at Saginaw Valley State University and student taught in the L’Anse Creuse school district. He is now certified to teach science in grades six through 12. He’s also working on a Master’s degree in education, which he will complete in May, 2009. Gary decided that the best way to give back to the Michigan Eye-Bank would be to raise funds by drawing upon one of his own passions – spinning. Ironically, he had first become interested in spinning when his earlier vision problems made riding outdoors difficult. Gary envisioned a benefit event that quickly took shape as the Ride-A-Thon, held in June at Next Level Health & Fitness in St. Clair Shores, where he worked as a spinning gary (center) was joined by his family in support of the Michigan eye-Bank during the ride-a-thon. instructor. More than 50 spinners paid $25 each to bike in one of five sessions scheduled throughout the day. Coincidentally, one of the spinners, a doctor and friend of Gary’s, was called away during his session to perform a cornea transplant. Fall/Winter, 2008 | V I S I O N | Page 7
  8. 8. D E D I C AT E D T O T H E R E S T O R AT I O N O F S I G H T MIDWEST EYE-BANKS October 19 gift of Life Michigan 16th annual Betty Buckley Calendar of donor family Ceremony, Lansing, MI 23 Michigan eye-Bank night for sight, Lansing, MI Events November 14-16 national donor sabbath Weekend December 7 Lions eye Bank of new Jersey open house, springfield, nJ 8-13 Lions eye Bank Week Marchnational eye donor Month 26 Michigan eye-Bank Blood drive, ann arbor, MI tBd Illinois eye-Bank gift of sight gala V I S I ON A Publication of Midwest Eye-Banks Non-Profit Org U.S. Postage PAID Ann Arbor, MI 4889 VENTURE DRIVE Permit #43 ANN ARBOR, MI 48108