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Archive for March, 2012

Posted by Jami Kuehn, March 28, 2012 11:58 AM

Unfortunately, every day in Alabama people die. In half of these deaths, hospital and hospice nurses become special members of a unique team concerned with the possibility of providing the Gift of Sight.

And at Trinity, the benefits of this teamwork have worked in more ways than one.

Corey Scott, director of Business Development at LabFirst, a cornea recipient from tissue provided by the Alabama Eye Bank (AEB), said, “Everyone has an opportunity to help someone, and thanks to an unselfish person, I received a cornea to restore my vision.  After I received my cornea, I immediately became an organ donor because I knew first hand what it meant to me.”

Leigh Champion, RN, works in the ER, and also received a cornea transplant. Her vision, like Corey’s, was deteriorating rapidly and required a transplant that allowed her to see again.

“I’m very thankful for the person who donated. I know without their sacrifice, my restored sight wouldn’t have been possible.”

Nurses work hand in hand with the eye bank, ensuring that patients’ deaths are immediately called in to the Birmingham organization so that the donation process can begin.

Working together for more than 40 years, AEB and Alabama nurses have seen more than 60.000 tissues recovered for transplant, research and training. The thing that makes this happen everyday is commitment to a cause that brings tremendous hope and well being to the recipients.

Unknown to most, AEB has been a leader in eye banking, ranking in the top 10 eye banks in the U.S. for more than 30 years and rising as high as second. This wouldn’t have happened if nurses hadn’t given of themselves, taking time out of their normal schedules to help sight-restoring corneal transplants take place.

Posted by Jami Kuehn, March 16, 2012 9:50 AM

Ralph Logan has a penchant for making things look better. You could call him Mr. Clean.

A contracted custodian, Ralph loves cleaning things up and making things shine like his favorite hobby, restoring old cars.

“Yep, I like to make things look better. I really enjoy making those old cars look like new,” he said, as he made a hallway shiny and bright after many footsteps, spilled coffee, dirt and grim had been swept, mopped and buffed away.

Ralph’s ’77 crimson and white Ford pickup is a prime example of his workmanship, an item he keeps squeaky clean and shiny.

Asked if the crimson and white truck had anything to do with the school that sports those famous colors, Ralph laughed and said, “Yeah, my son graduated from there, and I’ve got money invested in that place.”

An African American and Vietnam vet, Ralph spent 38 years at the Housing and Urban Development and also worked at the Birmingham Urban League and Operation New Birmingham. He hails from Hale Co. and graduated from Miles College with a BS in sociology.

Ralph does a lot of his cleaning at the Alabama Eye Bank where’s he learned seen the value of donating his eyes to others so they can see.

“I know what happens here. People are helped by what this organization does, and certainly, I wanted to do my part.”

The oldest of seven children, “Mr. Clean” is 68, but hides it real well underneath a flashy smile and lot of energy.

He obviously likes to serve, as he’s a Sunday school teacher and deacon at the Sixth Avenue Baptist Church.in Birmingham. Among his many jobs as a deacon, are serving communion to the shut-ins.

Posted by Jami Kuehn, March 14, 2012 4:52 PM

Richard, pictured with Mayor Bell is a retired firefighter.  Due to an infection from an earlier glaucoma surgery, he developed a corneal ulcer that left him blind in one eye.

The Alabama Eye Bank was contacted by Dr. Phillips to get Mr. Thompson a replacement cornea. The morning after surgery he removed the bandage and could see!  He is still in the healing process and his vision continues to improve.  Richard lives on the lake in Rainbow City and enjoys fishing, motor cycles and most of all loves that he gets to see his grandchildren.

Richard has a great spirit and a big heart.  He is extremely grateful to his donor family.

 

    

Posted by Jami Kuehn, March 12, 2012 11:23 AM

Sometimes making a decision to become an eye donor isn’t that easy, but for one family of sisters their late sister’s desire to give her eyes away was enough to inspire them all. “We were all inspired by Judy’s courage and desire to help others. The only thing she could donate was her corneas, but two people can now see because of Judy,” family spokeswoman Belinda Muncher said.

Judy Nicholes, who died in 2010 at 51, had cerebral palsy, a group of neurological disorders that affect the part of the brain controlling body movement and muscle coordination. In spite of Judy’s condition, she was a giver and wanted to give of herself in whatever way she could before she left this life. She did so by saying yes” to giving the Gift of Sight. Actually, Judy wanted to be an organ and/or tissue donor, too, but due to physical complications, she could only donate her corneas.

Belinda has a tale of woe concerning her family’s afflictions that make most of our difficulties seem quite small. Her sister Sharon Cobb, 54, was born blind, and sister Donna Griffin, 62, also has cerebral palsy. Another sister Karen was born prematurely at six months and died after 2 ½ days.

Belinda’s response to the whys about her family’s suffering is simply, “Special people have special people.” She says God gave them all more compassion for people suffering with life’s hurts.

“The Lord used Sharon’s blindness as a catapult for caring for others. I know Judy was moved to donate her corneas because of Sharon, and we all knew it was the right thing to do.”

Today, Sharon has returned to school, and Donna’s daughter Kelly Addison, 48, whom the family “adopted” as a sister because she lives with the family, is also an eye donor and runs her own messenger business. Belinda works in the Deli at Publix on Highway 150 in Birmingham and speaks highly of Publix and its people.

“I love my job here, and the people are just great. Our company’s slogan is ‘Passionately focused, customer valued’” she beamed, and I think we all try to live up to that.”

Posted by Jami Kuehn, March 7, 2012 12:32 PM

Right after her 16th birthday, Mandy Williams told her mother Denise Edmisten she wanted to be an organ donor upon getting her drivers license. Her mother’s response was a mama’s caring but emphatic “No.”

Two weeks later, Mandy was severely injured in a tragic automobile accident that left her hanging onto life at Jackson Hospital in Montgomery. As she lay motionless and on the verge of death, a compassionate and thoughtful nurse asked Denise about organ donation, sharing with her that there was no chance of survival for her daughter and that she could save lives and sight by agreeing to the request.

Again, Denise – overcome with tremendous sadness and remorse – said no. The nurse left her but came back a short while later with a different question: “Ms. Edmisten, I need to ask you another question about donation. What did your daughter want to do?”

This time Denise, remembering her daughter’s plea to give, said, “Of course. That’s what she wanted.”

That was 10 years ago, but Denise, director of the Alabama Funeral Home Director’s Association and ardent supporter of donation, still vividly recalls the conflict of emotions when faced with one of the toughest decisions she had ever made.

“I was really torn in so many ways, but I’m very glad that the nurse asked me a second time because I did what my Mandy wanted. She was so desirous of helping others and felt God wanted her to be an organ donor. I think Mandy had a sense that life for her would be short.”

Mandy saved five lives and gave another sight.  She donated her left kidney and liver to one recipient, her right kidney to another, her heart to someone, her left lung to another recipient and right lung to another. Additionally, she was able to give the gift of sight to one man.

“I’m thankful for that nurse who went a little out of her way to consider others in a very tense and emotional time for me and my family,” Denise said. “If there is a positive thing about a tragedy such as ours — and I personally believe there is — it’s donation because I know that people are walking around today and seeing today because of Mandy.”

Posted by Jami Kuehn, 9:58 AM

Right after her 16th birthday, Mandy Williams told her mother Denise Edmisten she wanted to be an organ donor upon getting her drivers license. Her mother’s response was a mama’s caring but emphatic “No.”

Two weeks later, Mandy was severely injured in a tragic automobile accident that left her hanging onto life at Jackson Hospital in Montgomery. As she lay motionless and on the verge of death, a compassionate and thoughtful nurse asked Denise about organ donation, sharing with her that there was no chance of survival for her daughter and that she could save lives and sight by agreeing to the request.

Again, Denise – overcome with tremendous sadness and remorse – said no. The nurse left her but came back a short while later with a different question: “Ms. Edmisten, I need to ask you another question about donation. What did your daughter want to do?”

This time Denise, remembering her daughter’s plea to give, said, “Of course. That’s what she wanted.”

That was 10 years ago, but Denise, director of the Alabama Funeral Home Director’s Association and ardent supporter of donation, still vividly recalls the conflict of emotions when faced with one of the toughest decisions she had ever made.

“I was really torn in so many ways, but I’m very glad that the nurse asked me a second time because I did what my Mandy wanted. She was so desirous of helping others and felt God wanted her to be an organ donor. I think Mandy had a sense that life for her would be short.”

Mandy saved five lives and gave another sight.  She donated her left kidney and liver to one recipient, her right kidney to another, her heart to someone, her left lung to another recipient and right lung to another. Additionally, she was able to give the gift of sight to one man.

“I’m thankful for that nurse who went a little out of her way to consider others in a very tense and emotional time for me and my family,” Denise said. “If there is a positive thing about a tragedy such as ours — and I personally believe there is — it’s donation because I know that people are walking around today and seeing today because of Mandy.”

Posted by Jami Kuehn, March 1, 2012 1:10 PM

Massachusetts Man “Deeply grateful” for New Cornea from Alabama Donor

Peter Wald of Seekonk, Massachusetts is a grateful man today because an Alabama family donated their daughter’s corneas after she died in a car wreck.

“My sight just got worse and worse – 20/200 with a contact,” he said, “but thanks to my donor, today I see very well.”

His donor, a 17-year-old girl from Corner, AL, Mikal Ann Webb, died after she lost control of her car when she swerved to miss another car in the road and struck a tree.

Peter underwent surgery to remove the old cornea that had a non-inflammatory eye condition called keratoconus in which the normally round dome-shaped cornea progressively thins causing a cone-like bulge to develop. Keratoconus, although not common, occurs in about one out of 2,000 people. The Alabama Eye Bank provided the new cornea for Peter’s surgery. The cornea is the clear front part of the eye.

“I’m deeply grateful for what this family did and for my donor. I cannot begin to express how humbled I was to receive sight again, knowing the circumstances of Miss Webb’s death.”

Mikal’s parents used her death to remind students to be careful. To emphasize, they had her badly damaged Honda Civic hauled to the Corner High School, where it was displayed as a warning to others. A black and yellow wreath covered the windshield, and the side windows displayed pictures of Mikal with the words “slow saves” imprinted on them.

Mikal’s mother Maria said, “We think it’s great that he got her eyes. We miss her so much, but we are glad someone was helped. God just needed Mikal in heaven with Him.”

Maria said that Mikal was an organ donor and was able to donate her kidneys, liver, pancreas, and both corneas, saving the lives of four people in addition to the corneas for sight.

“We never knew the kind of impact she had on others until after her death. Her beautiful smile cheered people up. She was just a wonderful person,” her mother said.

 

Precision
Corneal Graft

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MedEd
Continuing Education

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GSN
Global Sight Network

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