National Eye Donor Monthby Former Representative Alan Nunnelee
Posted on 2013-03-19
in the house of representatives
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Mr. NUNNELEE. Mr. Speaker, over 1,000,000 people have had their sight
restored since the Eye Bank Association of America was created in 1961.
Since 1983, each March has been designated as National Eye Donor Month.
As a recipient of two corneal transplants, I am honored to participate
In high school I was diagnosed with keratoconus, a degenerative disease of the cornea. From then and through much of my college life, I lived with the belief that I would one day lose my eyesight. As a junior in college, I was told I was potentially a good candidate for cornea replacement surgery. On April 25, 1980, I had my first surgery and the results were almost instantaneous. Two years later, I had another, equally successful transplant procedure on my other eye. I live every day with the knowledge that not only was my vision saved, it took tremendous strength and compassion on the part of two families to make it possible.
With corneas, the doctors are not concerned with matching by blood type, but they need to match by age. The reason is simple: the cornea does not need to wear out before the recipient does. So two families who lost a son, daughter, husband, or wife in their teens-to-mid- twenties made a decision under the worst of circumstances, and donated their loved ones corneas so that a stranger might see.
I encourage all Americans to register to become eye donors and inform your families of your wishes.
I urge my colleagues to work with their local eye banks and the EBAA to promote eye donation and its life enhancing effects on corneal recipients.
During this month, let us remember the donors and their families who have forever changed so many lives, including my own, for the better.