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Posted by Jami Kuehn, March 10, 2014 11:31 AM

We get a lot of amazing letters from donor families & recipients who want to share their feelings about what has happened in their life. We wanted to share a special one from a new friend of ours named Don Drummond who contacted us heart-broken over the sudden loss of his daughter. Here is Don’s letter to the 2 recipients of his daughter DeDee’s corneas.

 

Her name was DeDee…

The Alabama Eye Bank contacted me in regards to your recent operation. I hope you will have great success in life with the sight you have been given. We are glad to know that a good thing has come out of the sorrowful and untimely death of our daughter.

My name is Don Drummond and my wife’s name is Michelle. Together we raised DeDee and she was a pleasure to live with and love those nearly 18 years that we lived with her in Central California. She met her husband when she was about 11 years old and married before she turned 18. She and her husband had 3 children.

Her husband was in the Navy as a medic so they lived in several places in the US. DeDee was a very warm, loving, caring and giving person. DeDee had one grandson and by the time you read this letter her second grandson will have been born. I know that her spirit will be there when he was born.

DeDee leaves behind her husband of 25 years, 3 children and extended family. Yep, I am her dad and I changed her diapers, bathed her, clothed her, taught her to drive, and loved her. I didn’t have to teach her to love people because that was her nature. I have a big frog in my throat and a dinosaur in my soul, which they say will grow smaller in time.

If you start feeling the urge to go to Disneyland, that is because DeDee had season passes and attended sometimes three times a week when she lived in Southern California. She was very outgoing and had numerous friends and communicated on Facebook a lot.

Sincerely,

Don Drummond.

Posted by Jami Kuehn, March 3, 2014 11:18 AM

We’ve been providing transplantable corneal tissue to the state of Alabama for 46 years. As we look back and let the reality of just how many thousands and thousands of Alabamians over our history that have long benefited from sight-restoring corneal transplants make us all swell with pride to know that we have had a hand in restoring purpose in a life through the gift of sight. We are so proud to have worked with so many of the industries leading professionals here in Alabama and all the friends in the medical community across the nation.

Each year, the Eye Bank Association of America (EBAA) along with the Alabama Eye Bank and other eye banks nation wide promote March as “National Eye Donor Month” to raise awareness of the need for eye donation.  President Ronald Reagan proclaimed the first National Eye Donor Month in 1983, and since then, a member of Congress has read a proclamation into the Congressional Record each March to note this special occasion.

Last year, the Alabama Eye Bank recovered and provided over 1300 transplantable corneas to help fellow Alabamian’s and patients around the world, regain their sight.  The EBAA and its member eye banks know firsthand the profound effect of sight-restoring corneal transplants, which changes the lives of over 60,000 people each year.

The efforts of the EBAA, its member banks, corneal surgeons, certified eye bank technicians (CEBTs) have contributed to advancements in corneal surgery. Our industry-leading medical standards, acknowledged and respected by government and peers alike, have also contributed to the efficacy and safety of corneal tissue.  These achievements would not have been possible without the selfless gifts of donors and donor families, the dedication of eye bankers, corneal surgeons and technicians, and the support of our community, who assist us in increasing donation awareness.

In closing, there are lots of ups and downs in our industry right now. However, we can not lose sight of our mission in life and the reality of our jobs that we get to be a part of a chapter in someone’s life story of WHEN they got to see again. “It was dark one day, then the eye bank…then the doctor…then the nurse…and I could see again.” These are powerful words that we can not let get lost in the static of our days. We all here at the Alabama Eye Bank are so proud and blessed to know that each day we had a part to play in one chapter of someone’s life called, “PURPOSE: Restored” and with your support to increase donation awareness, many more will be afforded the same opportunity.

Doyce Williams
CEO/President
Alabama Eye Bank

Posted by Jami Kuehn, November 14, 2013 12:59 PM

The Alabama Eye Bank Board of Trustees and staff are greatly saddened by the passing of long-time board member, Robert M. Brissie, M.D., on Saturday, November 9, 2013.

Dr. Brissie joined the AEB Board of Trustees in 1995 and has faithfully supported the organization’s mission of Giving the Gift of Sight. It was our privilege to work with him both as the Jefferson County Chief Coroner/Medical Examiner and as a valued Board member.

Our hearts go out to Dr. Brissie’s family, especially his wife, Nancy, and his daughter, Sara, in this time of sadness. We will miss Dr. Brissie and are honored to have worked with him.

Posted by Jami Kuehn, August 26, 2013 9:40 AM

 

 

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AEB Sets New Record Month In June
We were able to provide sight to 135 people during the month of June. Not only were we able to help those in our home state of Alabama, but also as far away as the distant lands of China. Thank you to our incredible partners & our staff for their hard work in helping us accomplish this. 
Global Sight Network Featured In Birmingham Medical Journal 
GSN, a humanitarian outreach service of the Alabama Eye Bank was featured for our unique and focused service and preservation methods used. GSN was formed in partnership with other eye banks across the United States, utilizing a glycerol based storage technique to preserve medically eligible corneal tissue not suitable for transplant. This tissue, which might otherwise be discarded, is made available for tectonic coverage and other uses to previously underserved patients around the world.
Click HERE to read the full article by June Matthews.

DONOR FAMILY LETTER: David Flack
The AEB office was blessed by a visit from a very special donor family. David Flack, 48 from Alabaster, AL passed away suddenly from a cardiac arrest leaving behind his wife (Sheryl) of 27 years and his two daughters (Lauren & Marybeth). However, in his passing, he was able to restore sight for 2 people. David’s oldest daughter, Lauren wrote a very touching letter to the recipients of her daddy’s tissue honoring the legacy that he left behind that caught our attention and well needless to say it was hard to find a dry eye in office after these amazing ladies shared their story.
Lauren’s Letter:
Dear Recipient,
I’d like to start off with saying the last time David renewed his license, his wife had asked him why he wasn’t an organ donor, and he stated, “Why? They won’t be able to use anything of mine anyways” and as you know he was wrong. If he knew that he was able to shine light into someone else’s life over the loss of his, well he would be amazed.
David was 48 years old when he died. He had a wife whom he was married to for 27 years. My mother and he both truly believed they were soul-mates. One of his most absolute favorite things in the world was dirt bikes. He started riding them in his early teens and stopped in his 30s due to health problems. David was born with a condition called Sub Aortic Stenosis. His first open heart surgery was at 9 years old. He led a pretty normal life until the second heart surgery which was in his mid-30s. In 2009 he had a heart attack, but survived and underwent his third open heart surgery to replace a valve, then another valve two years later and was never able to return to work after that. With thast last surgery came a slew of health problems and even though he felt absolutely horrible every single day, he never let on to his family how bad it was. Also, I’d like for you to know that on the day of his death he felt great, he worked on his wife’s car for hours and enjoyed it! He had felt better the last few weeks before his death then he had in years. Even though we knew his life would be cut short, his death was still very sudden and unexpected. He died of cardiac arrest, which means his heart and lungs stopped instantly and within a minute or two he died. He never knew what happened to him.
He has always been in love with history, most particularly the coal mines of Alabama and World War 2. I cannot tell you how many abandoned mines he took us to. He had many books on the subject and re-read them over and over. David worked in the labor field as an industrial maintenance mechanic, it was amazing the things he could fix and build. He was a great artist. Anyone he ever met would describe him as the funniest person with an almost ODD sense of humor. He loved his family so very much, we are still currently finding notes he left in strange places to remind us how much he loved us. He could talk to a wall; literally, he loved to talk to people. He was one of those types that would strike up a conversation with bill collectors and talk for hours. He wore mostly Fox and loved rock music. His favorite was The Doors, however Van Halen and Nirvana followed closely behind. David was not shy, EVER. We feel like a one page letter doesn’t do his life justice, however in the grand scheme of things this is who he was.
 
Please know that it has given my family great peace that he has helped you. I’d like to leave you with a poem that I read at his funeral, he was going to make my mother a sign with the words listed to go in the house they were getting ready to purchase right before his death.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, we hope to hear from you.
The Donor Family

The Alabama Eye Bank Board of Trustees Elects 3 New Members
For the 2014 – 2016 term, Kristin Bains, M.D.,
Tyler Hall, M.D. and
Don Chandler were elected in by their peers.
The Board of Trustee officers that were elected to serve a 2nd term of office are: George Hackney – Chairman, William Counce, PhD – Vice-Chairman, Andrew Velazquez, M.D. – Secretary, Robert Field – Treasurer, Roswell Pfister, M.D. – Medical Director. 
“We’re so pleased to have this team directing our board for the next two years. They bring a wealth of knowledge and business experience to the table.” Doyce Williams, CEO.

 

NEW Technical Advancements at AEB
Starting in July 2013, our very talented IT department lead by VP of Information Services, Tom Cattell implemented a new customized “app” for iPhones and iPads.  This app tracks mileage and gas fill-ups in all AEB owned vehicles in Birmingham.
Originally we used an auto log in a binder where anyone using an AEB car would fill out their name, odometer readings and destination.  This new app replaces the book and makes the whole process automatic and easier to use and track.
 
The person leaving opens the app on an iPhone or iPad and chooses the “Leaving AEB” button. They then choose their name from a list and the car they are taking.  At this point, the app tells them the mileage that was entered when the car was last used.  They can choose that mileage or enter their own mileage.  They then fill out where they are going and why and then click a submit button.  This button closes the app so it will not hang up away from the office.
 
Upon return the person using the car, opens the app and chooses the “Arriving AEB” button.  They then choose the car they are using and are presented with an option to take a picture of a gas receipt if they have one.  They then enter the ending odometer reading and submit the record.
 
The backend database of the app is the best part of making this digital.  At anytime the person needing to see the car info can see all logs.  It will tell if a car is being used too much or not enough.  It warns when an oil change is needed.  It even keeps a record of gas receipts.  All this is done with no need for manual input.  The time savings are significant. 

MEET KIM PERKINS
Kim is our new Director of Donor Services Center responsible for all the tedious details of managing our call center, the hospitals and counseling families.
Here’s a quick 60-seconds with Kim: 
How long have you worked at AEB? I’ve been at the AEB 2 1/2 years
Degrees, certifications or titles that you have achieved for your position. I have an Associate’s Degree in Nursing
What about your job gives you the biggest source of gratification? Helping donor families through the grieving process & helping to restore sight.
What’s the one thing that you want people to know about AEB? The AEB is an incredible organization that helps people not only in Alabama but worldwide. It is not very well known that we transplant tissue all across the world, even as far as China.
What’s one wish you have for the next generation? That they develop a spirit of cooperation in order to come together & solve problems that face us nationally & globally.
What energizes you? My kids, watching them play, teaching them new things. They are amazing!
What’s the last thing you downloaded to you iPhone/iPad? Find my iPhone (to find my son’s iPod!)
The Alabama Eye Bank is a 501-C3 not-for-profit that has the unique job of helping victims of corneal blindness find sight.  For more than 40 years, the AEB has been dedicated to creating a corneal delivery service to solve the unmet vision needs in eye care.  AEB is the 4th largest eye bank in North America and has been ranked in the top ten for over 28 consecutive years.

500 Robert Jemison Rd | Birmingham, AL 35209 US
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Posted by Jami Kuehn, 8:58 AM

For Immediate Release

CONTACT:

Jamison Kuehn

P:  205.313.8334

jkuehn@alabamaeyebank.org

 

The Alabama Eye Bank Board of Trustees recently elected 3 new members for 2014-2016.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kristin Bains, M.D. A Birmingham native, graduated University of Alabama Birmingham, fellowship at Baylor College, Houston, TX, now practicing at Alabama Ophthalmology Associates.

Tyler Hall, M.D. A native of Dayton, OH. Graduated from Wright University, Clinical Instructor of Ophthalmology at University of Alabama Birmingham and currently practicing at Alabama Eye & Cataract Center in Birmingham, AL.

Don Chandler, a marketing and sales account manager for many large agencies from working at prestigious ad agencies like Luckie & Company, Slaughter Hanson & Lawler Ballard Van Durand. Now currently working at Intermark Group.

Board of Trustee officers were re-elected to serve a 2nd term of office: George Hackney – Chairman, William Counce, PhD – Vice-Chairman, Andrew Velazquez, M.D. – Secretary, Robert Field – Treasurer, Roswell Pfister, M.D. – Medical Director,

“We’re so pleased to have this elite team directing our board for the next two years.  They bring a wealth of knowledge and business experience to the table,” Doyce Williams, president and CEO, said.

The Alabama Eye Bank is a 501-C3 not-for-profit that has the unique job of helping victims of corneal blindness find sight.  For more than 40 years, the AEB has been dedicated to creating a corneal delivery service to solve the unmet vision needs in eye care.  AEB is the 4th largest eye bank in North America and has been ranked in the top ten for over 28 consecutive years.

END

Posted by Jami Kuehn, 8:37 AM

Posted by Jami Kuehn, May 10, 2013 10:11 AM

Back in 1984, the Alabama Eye Bank had the pleasure of meeting the wonderful Lowery family. Melissa who was 5 at the time contracted a form of herpes on her lip due to a rare allergic reaction to latex. This herpes virus spread to her eye causing blindness in one eye and required the need for a corneal transplant.

The corneal transplant was successfully performed by Dr. Roswell Pfister and Melissa was able to experience her childhood and now adult life enjoying the beautiful tapestry of her world by having the ability to see her husband fall in love with her, the birth of her precious children and all the other “once in a life time” sights that being a wife and a parent offers.
We recently had the opportunity to reconnect with Melissa who is now married and blessed with 2 beautiful girls, who had each and every one of us here at the office wrapped around their little fingers.
Melissa, her mom and her dad took the time to sit down with all of us here at AEB and share their hearts of what the experience was like. This was a very tearful & emotional experience for her family to recount the memories and also equally moving to all of us here at the Alabama Eye Bank to see the tremendous impact of what we do on a daily basis be seen by the tears of joy running down Melissa’s cheek from the eyes that we had a hand in helping restore sight to because someone made a selfless decision by registering to be an eye donor.
The Alabama Eye Bank is a 501-C3 not-for-profit that has the unique job of helping victims of corneal blindness find sight.  For more than 40 years, the AEB has been dedicated to creating a corneal delivery service to solve the unmet vision needs in eye care.  AEB is the 4th largest eye bank in North America and has been ranked in the top ten for over 28 consecutive years.

Melissa Vargas

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Posted by Jami Kuehn, April 25, 2013 10:03 AM

The Alabama Eye Bank has been honored to sponsor the Alabama Eye Bank Distinguished Lectureship in Cornea and External Disease for six years bringing the most innovative leaders in corneal and external disease: Matthew Mosteller, M.D., Richard Duffey, M.D., both of Mobile, Alabama, Christopher Rapuano, M.D., of Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Kenneth Goins, M.D., from the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa, Mark Gorovoy, M.D., of Ft Myers, Florida, Eduardo Alfonso, M.D. from Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami, Florida and Francis Price, Jr., M.D.  of Indianapolis, Indiana, to share their wisdom and years of extensive hands-on experience to benefit UAB’s physicians and the Alabama community of ophthalmologist.

AEB has enjoyed a long and satisfying relationship with the UAB Department of Ophthalmology for over 30 years that has expanded and enhanced the mission for restored vision in Alabama, the United States and worldwide. The unified collaboration has brought much new advancement of corneal surgery techniques, procedures and increased resources for research.

AEB, which has ranked among the Top 10 Eye Banks in the world in corneal tissue recovery for more than two decades, realized that an effective Eye Bank is dependent upon the academic quality of vision scientists, ophthalmologists and the support of ancillary professors. Doyce Williams, CEO says, “I believe in this type of venue and the leadership of Dr. Girkin, UAB Chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology,  that will continue to encourage, foster and strengthen the goal and main purpose which is to provide the absolute best care possible to the vision impaired and blind locally and throughout the world.”

Dr. Christopher Girkin, M.D. who is Chairman & Professor of the Department of Ophthalmology for the University of Alabama-Birmingham School of Medicine responded by saying, “It’s been an honor for us to be apart of this exciting endeavor. Working along side the Alabama Eye Bank has been inspirational giving those physicians and residents who are hungry for knowledge the opportunity to grow and advance in their careers.”

On April 12th, 2013 Doyce Williams presented a commemorative plaque that displays all previous speakers and publicly communicates the mission of the lecture series along with the effort and passion between AEB and UAB to restore sight and hope through corneal transplant surgery. The plaque will be on display in the Smith Education Center at the UAB Callahan Eye Hospital.

The Alabama Eye Bank is a 501-C3 not-for-profit that has the unique job of helping victims of corneal blindness find sight.  For more than 40 years, the AEB has been dedicated to creating a corneal delivery service to solve the unmet vision needs in eye care.  AEB is the 4th largest eye bank in North America and has been ranked in the top ten for over 28 consecutive years.

Posted by Jami Kuehn, March 18, 2013 9:35 AM

Dear friend,

I am writing to express my sincere, heartfelt gratitude to you and members of your family for my gift of sight. I know your decision of organ donation was made at the most difficult time of your lives. As a result of your love and generosity I received a cornea tissue transplant a few weeks ago.

I cannot adequately express the emotions of thankfulness I feel. A few days after surgery my vision was brighter and clearer without distortion I experienced for years. Thank you for this living gift. I am a 69 year old Registered Nurse. Retired and residing in Alabama. My husband and I will celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary in a few months. We have 3 children and 7 grandchildren (ages 18 yrs – 2yrs). Two of our children are serving in Christian Ministry positions.

We are a close family and often get together for Sunday dinners and fishing trips to our camphouse on the river. I am most grateful that in the moment of your difficult situation, God’s grace was extended to me through your precious loved one. God bless and comfort you is my prayer.  I welcome correspondence or personal contact but at the same time I have the deepest respect for your privacy in your time of grief.

I hope you feel a sense of continuing life and love through your gift of sight for which I will be FOREVER GRATEFUL.

Sincerely,

 

Posted by Jami Kuehn, March 11, 2013 11:06 AM

Hello, my name is Cindy. I am Ronald’s widow. We were married for 30 years. Ronald was age 56. He loved being outdoors. In his “free time” he was usually either hunting or fishing. On his last morning, he and his “best fishing buddy” were finishing their last minute preparations to participate in a weekend fishing tournament.

On that May 2006 morning, I had walked out to the hospital’s parking lot to start telephoning his children to break the news that their Dad had unexpectedly passed away. I had been pacing in the  parking lot for several minutes, while making the phone calls, when one of the nurses motioned from the doorway for me to come back into the hospital. It was then that they asked me if I wanted to sign the “O.K” for Ronald to be a donor. If I had gone ahead and drove back home sooner, instead of staying in the parking lot, we all would have missed this special opportunity to become donor/recipient.

Before it was “fashionable” to be a donor, I contacted the Alabama Lions Club Eye Bank to receive an Eye Will card. I still have that Eye Will card, which is dated September 1980, in my billfold next to my driver’s license. Someday I hope that I will be a donor too.

Many years ago, long before my husband’s death, I thought about “What if I lost my sight, or my
hearing, or my speech? If I could pick ONE to KEEP, which one would I prefer?” I have chosen SIGHT. Sight is priceless. I enjoy sitting in the rocking chair on the front porch and watching the creatures’ and birds’ movements. I enjoy watching my grandchildren grow and mature on a daily basis. My favorite time of the day is from daybreak and then for the next couple of hours; nature seems so fresh and reborn.

Five years have now passed. It is a milestone on me becoming a widow, finding a different way to live without the husband I once had. It is a milestone for you in receiving the transplant. I am very glad in just knowing that someone, somewhere, benefited.

I apologize for not knowing what to expect from a cornea transplant, but I pray that all has gone well for you. I do understand that there is always a possibility that the transplant may be rejected, that’s ok, I am still interested in hearing from you and how you are now. I would be very grateful.

Hope to hear from you.

Sincerely,

Cindy

Precision
Corneal Graft

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MedEd
Continuing Education

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GSN
Global Sight Network

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