March 2015 Update:
Since the first airing of my Donate Life Nebraska video a lot in my life has changed. My beautiful wife, Alyssa, and I got married, my business has grown, and Alyssa and I have begun a full remodel of our home. With all of these events happening in such a short period of time, it is hard to think almost 5 years ago I was legally blind. Without the help of organ and tissue donation I am not sure where in life I would be, but I do know I would have missed out on seeing many of the moments I will remember for the rest of my life. Of these moments I have been blessed to experience with near perfect vision there is one that sticks out the most. That moment was our wedding day
August 17, 2013. This was the happiest day of my life. Not only did I get to marry my best friend but also I got to experience her true beauty with full sight. From the music to the beautiful church, there was not detail that I will ever forget and for this I have my cornea donor to thank. Thank you Donate Life Nebraska for helping people like me live their lives to the fullest.
I was diagnosed with the eye disease Keratoconus when I was 20-years-old in Amarillo, Texas. The specialist did not seem to think that it was a big problem at that time. Unfortunately, 3-and-a-half years later my vision started to diminish so I went to see a specialist in Lincoln, Nebraska. My Keratoconus disease, which causes the cornea to become cone-shaped, had reached a point where I needed to have corneal transplants. The doctor in Lincoln had never operated on someone as young as I was so I was referred to the University of Iowa Hospital for my corneal transplant surgery.
Life before transplants was difficult. I used my eyes a lot with working in the construction trade and I found my work becoming more and more difficult to complete. I had to adjust and began to work by touch and feel rather than depending on my vision. My depth perception was terrible and I became legally blind. I couldn't work and I was unable to drive. My worst struggle was with walking. There were numerous times I tripped down the stairs.
After losing my sister to an auto accident, my family decided to donate her organs. I hadn't thought much about organ and tissue donation before this incident though I have always been a registered donor. As a young adult, it is not something that crosses your mind all that much, but when I was told that I had to depend on a complete stranger to regain my eye sight my thought of organ and tissue donation was completely changed.
I am proud to say that I am fully recovered from my surgeries and am able to see 20-20 with corrective lenses. Some of my favorite activities include playing with my dogs, walks with my fiancé and golfing. All of these things are much easier to do now and far above the ease, they are much more enjoyable. I am looking forward to seeing my fiancé walk down the aisle!
Without the help of my donor family and their loved ones there is a very good chance that I would be blind today. By making the selfless choice to donate their family members' organs and tissue they have not only impacted my life but many others. I would like to say thank you from the bottom of my heart.
My message to potential organ donors is that if I had not been blessed with transplants, my life would have been turned upside down. If you had someone in your life that you loved and this person needed something, would you help them by giving it to them? By donating organs and tissue you are helping save and better the lives of someone's mother, father, sister, brother, child or even fiancé like in my case. The gift of life is the most powerful gift you could offer someone and if you choose to donate you will be sharing with others things they need to continue to live. The power to save a life...What could be more meaningful than that?