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Cornea Recipient

I am a 32 year old mother with 4 kids, and I was diagnosed with Herpes Simplex Virus when I was just 9 years old. It’s basically the virus that causes cold sores.

When I was in 3rd grade, my mom woke me up to get me ready for school, and when I opened my eyes all I could see out of my right eye was foggy black. The only way I can describe it is like trying to see through thick black smoke. I just kept screaming “it hurts so bad, I can’t see!” My parents loaded me and my little sister in our minivan, dropped her off at school and on to the hospital we went. When we arrived at the hospital, I had so many machines hooked up to me, people taking my blood, with nurses running in and out. My little girl self was terrified. After hours and hours of being there no one could give us answers. I went home 100% blind in my right eye with no explanations. Now looking back as a mother myself, I just can’t imagine how my mother felt in all this.

We went from doctor to doctor for months without any luck of finding out what was wrong. I wasn’t allowed to go to school because no one knew if I was “contagious “ or not. I lived out that entire summer with migraines in a dark room. Every time I would leave that room I had my pink Minnie Mouse pillow over my head. Any kind of light burned so badly. One day my mom came home with dark sunglasses she found at a doctor’s office and said “I’m taking you out of this house for a bit!”

We went yard sailing in our neighborhood, and the last house we stopped at was a church group. All these ladies came to my mom and said they had been waiting for us to arrive. My mom, looking confused, asked “waiting for us”? The woman replied “God told me that you’d be coming today and that you really needed prayers.” My mom was hesitant, but we followed the lady to her garage and all these people were sitting in there like they were waiting for something. The lady explained to my mom that they wanted to do a prayer session with us. After my mom agreed I felt all these different hands on my back, shoulders and head. Everyone started praying for me and my mom just bawled crying.

Soon after that my mom came across Dr. Katz in Lexington. Meeting this doctor on the first day, he told me he had a diagnosis. I had Herpes Simplex Virus that basically caused a cold sore to go into my eye, scar my cornea, causing me to go blind. Next he said I would have to let my body grow for the next 8 years before doing a cornea transplant. So that’s what I did! After 8 years of migraines, dark rooms, in and out of homeschool, I was finally about to be 18 and begin my senior year of high school.

On October 13, 2008 we got a call saying we have a match! I remember grabbing my mom and we just cried. I was so excited but scared at the same time. The next morning we got up at 5am and headed to UK Hospital. The nurses were just amazing, taking off my nail polish and trying to keep us all calm. Finally it was time! I remember waking up crying for my daddy and begging for chocolate milk and a chocolate iced donut. Within the hour he was there with everything I requested.

After weeks of wearing eye bandages it was finally time to go for my checkup appointment. The doctor said it was a successful transplant and he was so happy how it turned out. The smile from all our faces was so big. I think the doctor even cried happy tears. So many years of waiting and it was finally done.

After a year I gained almost all of my vision back. With glasses I can read letters now! I got my driver’s license and graduated high school in May 2009. I am so thankful to my donor. I pray for him and his family as if they were my own. I never got to thank them, but I pray every day they know how much they mean to me. Seeing my family and children grow everyday is the best blessing I’ve ever received.