Ask the average adult how they might imagine a better world and they would likely share their vision for less violence, poverty, and injustice. A better world begins by envisioning it; however, seeing the world as a better place first requires sight. What happens then when the capacity for vision is entirely absent, and a person literally can no longer see? Reliable vision is something taken for granted until a doctor communicates that corrective lenses are necessary, but what about degenerative eye diseases, genetic conditions, or rare accidents, that render a person blind? Without the ability to see, it is difficult to envision anything let alone a better world.
Since 1985, Eversight has been an organization that envisions a world where everyone in need of eye and tissue transplants has the ability to see. Formerly known as the Midwest Eye Banks, this organization has been “dedicated to the preservation and restoration of sight through transplantation, research, education and partnership,” according to their website. They’re making the world a better place by helping people who have lost their vision to regain their sight. By raising awareness for the need to have more organ and tissue donors, making transplant tissue available for patients in need, and conducting clinical research to improve eye transplant outcomes, Eversight is restoring sight and powering the vision of individuals to live out fulfilling lives.
In the state of Michigan, there used to be only one out of three adults registered as organ and tissue donors for a number of years, according to Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson’s office. This low number of registered donors had an impact on the need for sight-saving eye tissue required for transplantation. Through the outreach of, and partnership with, Eversight, Ruth Johnson has worked to raise awareness to the public of a need for, and increase the number of, registered donors in the state. The Secretary of State’s office has since made it easier for drivers to become registered organ and tissue donors when they get their licenses. Over time, this collaboration has yielded 50% of driving adults as registered organ donors.
Beyond merely having access to donor tissue for vision-restoring transplant surgeries, Eversight regularly engages in activities related to eye and tissue transplant research. Through grants to fund research projects and providing tissue, tools, and supplies necessary to conduct clinical research, Eversight is contributing to the advancement of surgical techniques, tissue preservation methods, and the generation of new knowledge in the area of eye and tissue transplantation. One such study made possible by Eversight from 2006, published in published in Investigations in Ophthalmology & Vision Sciences, showed that the type of storage containers, which held eye tissue prior to transplantation, had an impact on the quality of the tissue at the time of surgery. Advancements in the design of storage containers for eye tissue have since been made, thus improving outcomes for patients.
As an organization that seeks to increase the availability of eye tissue for transplantation and surgery, as well as advance the understanding of clinical practice related to sight restoration, Eversight is also involved in the recovery of donor eye tissue in order to make it available to patients in need. When an organ donor passes away, and they have elected to donate their eye tissue, the Eversight recovery team contacts the family of the deceased and arranges to harvest the donor tissue. They then transport it, preserve it, and make it available to surgeons who are conducting transplant operations. As a double cornea transplant recipient myself, I recognize the critically important work that tissue recovery and preservation play in restoring sight. If it were not for the work of Eversight, I would not be able to see today. Their work has helped to restore my vision and enable me to finish college, meet my wife, or impact the thousands of students and educators I have worked with in my teaching career.
It can be easy to take your vision for granted until you no longer have it. The ability to see and navigate the world around you is key to participating in everyday activities and contributing to the world in your own way. As an eye tissue transplant recipient myself, I have seen the impact that this has on my own life and work. Without reliable vision, my quality of life and opportunities for being a contributing member of society are limited. Through the work of tissue procurement, research, and advocating for the organ donor registry, Eversight is an organization that is impacting the lives of people like me, and countless others, who have lost their sight. In turn, those individuals who have their sight restored develop a renewed vision for life and the world. They are then able to go out and serve others and contribute to their communities. Empowering others through restoring their vision is a monumental way to impact the lives of people and make the world a better place, and Eversight is doing just, but this work ultimately begins with having a vision for a better world in the first place.
Latest posts by Gary G Abud Jr (see all)
- Being Michigan Teacher of the Year: Reflections On a Three-Year Ripple Effect in Teaching - May 16, 2016
- ASCC 13: How to Sell a Colony in 30 Days - August 25, 2015
- Michigan Students to See Shorter Standardized Tests in 2016 - August 21, 2015