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Josiah Pledl

Josiah Pledl
Earlier this week, I underwent a cornea transplant surgery. Since 2005 I have had issues with my left eye, and over time the situation deteriorated. I was deemed legally blind in my left eye in 2010. I had significant issues on and off with my left eye that required regular monitoring by my eye doctor. My cornea was a steeper cone than a typical cornea, and this caused thinning, which led to scar tissue, which led to me not being able to see. I have always made do with one eye, but now my life was different. One of my favorite memories as a child was being able to play catch with my dad. Now that I have a 21-month-old son, I want to be able to play catch with him. Being blind in one eye causes great difficulty with depth perception, and a simple activity like playing catch becomes much more difficult.

On Monday, I had the surgery, and I am currently recovering. After the surgery, I was presented with a booklet from a company that manages cornea donations. In this packet was information about how personal it is to share your story of the transplant with the donor’s family. In order for a cornea to be successfully transplanted, there is a short time between the passing of the donor and the time it is transplanted into the new eye. So, as I read this information about contacting the donor’s family, I knew that the family had just suffered the loss of a loved one. I thought about this quite a bit, and I had a lot of questions about what my new cornea may have seen and who is the person that is generous enough to donate their cornea to help me see again.

I decided to write a letter to the family, and I followed the guidelines from the company. At some point, my letter will be shared with the family. I expressed my gratitude and my sympathies, and I shared my story about why I needed the transplant and how it would impact me and my family. It was an emotional exercise to write this letter to people that I do not know and that have just recently lost a loved one. It is now up to the family if they want to communicate back with me or not. Either way, I will respect their decision. I am left with all of these questions and surprised at how it is impacting me emotionally. There are really good people in the world that want to help other people. With the current events, it can easily be forgotten that people are inherently good.

Thursday, I went in for my follow up appointment. Three days after surgery, my vision has improved to 20 over 125. I am no longer legally blind in my left eye. The surgeon expects that my vision will continue to improve, and he is aiming for me to return to 20/20 vision that I had before the cornea issues. This is remarkable. I am in awe of the progress that has happened so quickly, and I am amazed by the skill of my surgeon. I am eager to see how things continue to improve and where my recovery takes me in my journey of healing.

As I have been moved by this process and I have had time to reflect on many things with the downtime. I have thought about the importance of vision as a leader, and how in the day to day of leading an organization, your vision can get cloudy. It is essential to take time as you are leading to reflect on your vision and do a self-check to make sure that your actions align with your vision. Sometimes as a leader, you may need a cornea transplant to ground yourself in your values, ethics, and provide clarity on how you are living those values to lead your organization. It has become evident to me that vision does not need to be lost, and there are others out there willing to support you and assist you in restoring your vision.

This week has been painful, emotional, and successful. I am grateful for my wife that has sacrificed much this week to make this possible. She has taken the lead in providing for our son as I heal. She has taken the lead on providing for me as I heal. I am incredibly touched that there are others out there that are willing to donate tissue to benefit another human being and to improve another person’s quality of life. I am in awe of the medical professionals that are incredibly skilled and patient and devoted to a life of service. I am also inspired by the eye bank organization that facilitates the donation of eye tissue and works with both the donor’s family and the person receiving the transplant. I woke up this morning, and I could see out of my left eye. It was the most unreal experience ever. The best news of all is that I will now be able to play catch with my son. The world is a positive and amazing place if you have the vision to see it.