Oscar - tissue recipient, QLD
Oscar might be young in age, but what he lacks in years he makes up for in wisdom. The recipient of donor eye tissue on multiple occasions, Oscar knows none of this would be possible without tissue donors and their families.
“I’ve grown up knowing that the donor sclera that has been used in my surgeries was donated by amazing people who I wish I could thank,” Oscar said. “I’m grateful for their donation, without it I could have lost my eye.”
Oscar said his mum Melissa sends a ‘thank you’ card to the donor family every time donor eye tissue is used in his surgery. “For as long as I live, I will remember the people who donated their eye tissue so that people like me can grow up with the ability to see.”
Oscar was diagnosed with congenital glaucoma when just six months old. At age 3 he needed sclera donor tissue to attach a Baerveldt implant to his eye.
Melissa said she was taken aback when Oscar’s surgeon first explained that Oscar’s eye implant was attached to his eye by using donor sclera. “I’ve always been a registered donor but my ignorance (or bliss) didn’t realise that eye tissue could be donated. How wrong was I !?!,” she said.
“It was very confronting the first time I carried Oscar into the operating theatre and saw a small white esky labelled ‘human eye tissue for donation’ with my son’s name on it.
“I stopped in my tracks and remember ever so clearly welling up and saying a silent prayer for the selfless soul that had made this donation. Without it my baby would go blind. Fast forward 8 years and Oscar has been blessed with donor eye tissue many times, but that labelled esky still gets me every time!”
Sadly, on numerous occasions when Oscar has urgently needed surgery, it’s had to be delayed due to no available donor sclera in the eye bank. On one occasion they had to proceed with surgery using donor cornea as an alternative. Eye tissue donation isn’t very well known publicly but is something we need to raise public awareness about.
“It’s hard to put into words how this, feels; alarming, scary, disappointing to list a few,” Melissa said.
So, she’s made a promise to Oscar to do whatever she can to spread the word about organ and tissue donation and helps out DonateLife in Queensland anyway that she and Oscar can. And part of that is making sure Oscar is educated too.
“Oscar has grown up knowing that he is the recipient of a precious gift, something he will be forever grateful for,” Melissa said.