My name is Gail. I received my first corneal transplant in 2010 at the age of 56 and my second in 2014.
My vision gradually deteriorated over 30 years from the degenerative condition Fuchs’ Corneal Dystrophy. Your sight can be compared to looking through a dirty window or waxed paper. Everything is dull, distorted and foggy.
I was a full time teacher, mother, played sport, sat on committees and held executive positions at club and association levels but poor vision impacted every aspect of my life.
I needed to buy a desk incline for marking at home; I had difficulty reading and assisting students with their onscreen computer queries; I couldn’t track a tennis ball quickly enough and reading the fine print on documents, cleaning products and food packaging was impossible without a magnifying glass. I could only shop in familiar places and drive to nearby locations. My life started to depend on memory, hearing and touch.
I realised it was time for professional help when teaching 60 students with a colleague I called a student at the very back the wrong name. Teachers and students laughed it off but I was devastated. I could manage the personal time consuming, annoying and frustrating adaptations necessary to function but my vision was now impacting the children to whom I had a ‘duty of care’.
Since my transplants I have moved into and decorated a new house, had two daughters marry in the same year, been presented with three granddaughters, started netball coaching again and can consider future travel. I’m the ‘on call’ Gran for minding Maya, Laura and Ava. Although retired from teaching I have my own little collection of granddaughters to educate.
I can be involved in so many more life opportunities now because a special kind of person and family wanted to make a difference to someone else.
Donation is a gift whereby grief and sadness transpose into another’s relief, gratitude and thankful acceptance.
The most soul stirring feeling is the giver/receiver connection that you have. You make a pact to honour, respect, protect and care for your investment. You're in this together and that's worth fighting for.