Thanks to the generous donation of a cornea, I can look forward to regaining vision in my left eye. I am in my late forties and have been suffering from keratoconus, a degenerative cornea disorder, for most of my life. I have had extremely low vision in my left eye for as long as I can remember.
I’m in sales, inventory management with a large territory and drive an extensive amount. Vision is crucial for my employment. In addition to working full-time, I am a husband and loving father of a late twenty’s stepson as well as a teenage daughter, who we are currently preparing for college.
I was diagnosed with keratoconus approximately two years ago, but the doctor said I’ve most likely had this disease since I was a teenager. The keratoconus was continuing to deteriorate my cornea and my options remained extremely limited. Needless to say, I had my diseased cornea removed in September.
While the surgery went perfectly, I was saddened when I began to think of the gift I was given. How is it fair that a family can have their heart ripped from them? Should I benefit from their grief? I am amazed at the compassion and benevolence exhibited by my donor’s family in having the forethought to consider organ, eye and tissue donation. To think of saving and helping others in a time of deep sorrow shows real courage and true selflessness. I thank them for it and truly consider their gift the greatest I will ever receive.
I promise to honor the memory of my donor as long as I live. I promise to live my life to the fullest and seek out new opportunities and great adventures. With my eyes I will see all there is to see. My donor will see what I see, and I will think of them every step of the way. We may never meet, but I consider my donor and their family a part of my family. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.
We often say “what goes around, comes around” with a negative connotation, but Steve Huth, a Janesville Lions Club member, will tell you he knows it differently.
Steve’s story starts with a diagnosis of Fuchs’ Dystrophy, in 2004. Fuchs’ Dystrophy causes the clear layer (cornea) to swell. The disorder can lead to glare, cloudy vision and eye discomfort. Fuchs’ Dystrophy usually affects both eyes and can cause your vision to gradually worsen over years.
Struggling to blink without pain, and after trying a variety of treatments, Steve’s physician recommended a full corneal tissue transplant in his right eye in 2005. Eleven months later, he received a partial transplant in his right eye, followed by a partial corneal transplant in his left eye a year later. Once Steve was fully recovered, his vision was 20-20 in both eyes. “Recovery was intense, my vision would change monthly, and I even got new glasses four times in a year,” says Huth.
Steve’s story with the Lions Eye Bank of Wisconsin didn’t start with his corneal transplants. A Janesville Lions club member for over 30 years, Steve, an LEBW Transporter, had been transporting corneal tissue for years. Brought in by the ability to serve his community and make a difference in the lives of others, Steve has always found comfort in helping others as a Lion. “Many of our service projects revolve around making other people’s lives just a little more beautiful.”
Still a Transporter, and now a double-corneal transplant recipient, Steve has a deep appreciation for those who chose to give the gift of sight. “It can be the light of the moon or the brightness of the sunshine that guides our way; I am always thankful for the people who took the time to share their wishes with their families to donate eye tissue,” says Huth.
A nurse for more than 30 years, double corneal transplant recipient, Kathy Roberg, was diagnosed with Fuchs’ Dystrophy in 2003. Fuchs’ Dystrophy is a disease that usually affects both eyes and causes a gradual decline in vision due to corneal swelling and clouding. Overtime, Kathy’s vision worsened and she required her first corneal transplant in 2017. Kathy’s corneal transplants have allowed her to continue to participate and lead 15+ trips to Haiti, providing medical and dental care to local residents. She also works with women and children to develop business opportunities, educational assistance and teaching nursing at both the clinical and university level. “I am now able to be a wife, mother, sister, auntie and friend – and see and reflect the smiles and joy that come from others. I will do my best every day to wake up and thank the donors and their families for this precious gift.”
Corneal transplantation is one of the most frequently performed human transplant procedures and the most successful – over 95% success rate. Lean more about eye donation at lebw.org/donation. Save and heal lives by registering to be an organ, eye and tissue donor at donatelifewisconsin.org or at a Wisconsin DMV service center.