When Kathleen Fuller's husband, Brian, died suddenly in an automobile accident in 2011, one small source of solace for her was that she knew part of him would live on. He was a tissue donor, and his corneas gave the gift of life to two recipients.
As March is National Eye Donor Month, The Illinois Eye-Bank would like to take this opportunity to urge everyone to register with the National Eye, Organ and Tissue Registry, www.donatelifeillinois.org/index.php/register, and to "Do It For Your Family."
When more people make the choice to help others by enrolling in the donor registry, waiting lists will shorten and outcomes for transplant recipients become brighter. Plus, becoming a donor does more than expand this vital resource for desperate families everywhere. The decision to donate can be a blessing for your family in a difficult time, just as it was for Kathleen Fuller.
The Fullers had been married for 25 years, when, following an accident, a nurse approached Kathleen at the hospital to remind her that Brian was a registered organ and tissue donor.
"Of course he was," she replied. "Yes, let's try and do something to help someone."
The next day, Kathleen got a call from the hospital informing her that, due to the extent of his injuries, Brian was not a candidate for organ donation. "I was devastated," she said, describing her reaction as "an overwhelming sadness."
Fortunately, the Illinois Eye-Bank was able to facilitate a transplant of his corneas. The organization sent Kathleen a follow-up letter two weeks later, thanking her for Brian's gift of sight, which made life-changing transplants possible for two recipients.
"It was just such a great day the day I got that letter," Fuller said. She, in turn, wrote two letters to the cornea recipients, telling them about Brian, and how deeply he was missed by the family that he loved so much. "Everything he did, he did for his family," Kathleen says.
Whether it's helping to expand access to lifesaving organs, eyes and tissues or providing the peace of mind that donation can bring, sign the National Donor Registry today, and "Do It For Your Family."
The Illinois Eye-Bank is a subsidiary of Midwest Eye-Banks and a charitable, nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and restoration of sight. It recovers, evaluates and distributes human eye tissue for transplantation. It also supports research into the causes and cures of blinding eye conditions, promotes donation awareness through public and professional education and provides humanitarian aid to people in need of corneal transplantation throughout the world. For more information, visit the Illinois Eye-Bank at IllinoisEyeBank.org, or call (800) 548-4703.