Life returns from the darkness

The years following Hurricane Katrina were frustrating for David. There were multiple relocations with his family from his hometown of Mobile, Ala., to Dallas, then to Houston, and back to Dallas again. And then there were the vision issues which seemed to only grow worse and worse.

Cornea transplants restored David's vision.

David’s vision problems began when he was in the third grade. For many years, glasses seemed to be the answer. However, when David left the military his vision began to deteriorate.

Multiple visits to vision clinics provided multiple, conflicting answers. He was told, “You need different glasses,” or “Don’t wear glasses, they aren’t doing you any good.”

Eventually, David was referred to a specialist. It was during this evaluation that David learned he had keratoconus, a disease where the normally round cornea becomes cone-shaped.

The ophthalmologist started David on medication and fit him with special contact lenses. She felt the treatment, in addition to his good health, might be enough to turn the situation around.

Several months after David moved back to Dallas the irritation in his eyes began to worsen. Then one night as he slept, David’s cornea burst. Within weeks his other cornea burst as well. This was the beginning of five months of darkness and pain for David.

Any light beyond the dimmest was extremely painful. David was restricted to staying at home in darkened rooms. His wife helped him get situated in the mornings, then his son would come home from school to help in the afternoons. For a young, active, otherwise healthy man, this was very difficult.

Finally, it was time for his first transplant. David has nothing but praise for the ophthalmologist who performed the surgery. From the moment he woke from the procedure he could feel a difference with the pain.

He also quickly realized there was a big difference in his vision. From the first follow-up visit Davie was able to see characters on the eye chart.

The second transplant followed four months later. Again the procedure and the recovery went smoothly. As well as the first transplant had gone, the second was even better. Now, David has his vision back and is able to drive and work again.

When David tells his story he starts off by talking about donation.

“I have always been a donor," David said. “To me it is so important – you are gone, but you can still help people. In fact, as my wife and I were courting, we discussed donation and its importance. However, when I thought about donation it was always in the context of my helping other people. I never dreamed I would be the one needing the transplant.”