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Friday, June 18, 2010

The Life And Limitations Of A Corneal Graft Recipient

Over on my profile page at Facebook, a friend of mine had some questions about my Corneal Transplant that I had done in October of last year. I'm almost eight months post-transplant. Barring a few complications, so far, I'm doing quite well.

My friend's father had passed away a while back, and she had his corneas donated. They went to two different individuals. Thanks to her gift of her father's corneas, two more people are able to see the world around them.

There is sadly not as much conversation, education and awareness, as well as support for Corneal Grafting Transplants. We seem to be on the back burner. Mainly because to many it's "just an eye" and it's "just tissue". But the reality is...it is SO MUCH more than that!

Corneas are literally the windows to the world around us. Without corneas, you would not be able to see. AT ALL! Nor can you protect your eyes from MOST infections. Especially those that are air-borne caused.

Like many other things. Your eyes (and your corneas) get taken for granted. That is, until you lose the cornea, your sight, and almost the entire eye(s).

Here are the questions that she asks, and my answers.

Can you drive after you've had a cornea transplant ? No, not at this time. Due to complications of tight stitching and an ever-more developing Cataract, I am Legally Blind and would not be able to see things clearly from the left side or from my peripheral vision, which is still limited as well.

What about contact sports, swimming, flying etc? I can now just go back in to the water, but must be careful doing so. Contact sports are still a no-no. Flying, I don't know of yet either. I'm hoping to be allowed to get on roller coasters this summer with my kids at King's Dominion. Should know today, being I have a two-month checkup this afternoon.

Can the pressure from those cause damage to the transplant ? Ocular pressure certainly can harm the transplant. This is why it is checked at every visit. And for the first six weeks post-transplant, I wasn't allowed to bend at the waist, pick up objects (even my child) if they were over a specified weight, and even sex was banned.

Also, for the first week, I was not allowed to take a regular shower or wash my hair. I wasn't allowed to use face wash for the first month. I didn't color my hair again until like four months after surgery.

Just the other weekend, I got in to the pool. Before then, that was a no-no due to the chemicals used.

We (Corneal Graft patients) are placed on the ocular version of Prednisone. The side effects remain within the eye region, instead of having overall systemic effects.

I'm pretty sure I have some nerve damage in the way of nerve sensitivity. Now extreme heat (over 350 from an oven) and extreme cold (like from a freezer) either gives me a sharp pain or a "searing" feeling. I noticed those the first time I got to cook again, and when I opened a freezer section door at the store. And it's been like that ever since.

If anyone has ANY question in regards to Corneal Transplantation, or Donation, please feel free to ask away. Also, if you have yet to become a registered Organ/Tissue/Eye/Bone Donor, please click HERE and become a HERO.

6 comments:

Miriam said...

You can catch airborne infections through your eye ? Like the flu or am I reading too much into that ?

pr0udmom0f3 said...

Bacterial infections can get in to your eyes. And those get in through the skin and from internal infections.

But Viral infections are blocked by the Cornea.

For me, a SKIN condition, called Roseacea went ocular (meaning it got in to the eye) via flaked skin from my eyelashes that were minuscule and attacked my eyes. But eroded the LEFT eye's cornea.

I did the rest of the infection's intended job though. By poking my eye with my finger when I scratched an itch on that eyebrow and my finger slipped, hence poking it hard enough to perforate (create a hole) in the cornea.

It leaked eye fluid, to the point that one wrong move, and my eye was certainly gone. And the infection was also literally killing the eye.

Dez said...

This was the case with my problem as well. A virus my daughter carried got on my hands and was transferred when I rubbed my eyes (partly allergies and partly many sleepless nights with a sick infant lol). It has not ravaged my body the way yours has (thank God) but it's something I will deal with for the rest of my life. Thank for clearing up some misconceptions and being honest about your experiences. Maybe those with a negative view of organ donation or those who are on the fence, will have their eyes opened and see what a blessing it can truly be.

Robin said...

I found your page via the interview that you did on someone else's page. Strange thing that. I was there because another person that I follow was being interviewed. Anyway, your story was interesting. Glad you posted this today b/c it makes everything more clear about what is going on with your eye. I hope that your appt goes well and that ~ ultimately ~ you regain full use of the eye. You won't be considered legally blind forever, will you?

pr0udmom0f3 said...

Hi Robin! Thanks for stopping by.

I won't be legally blind for the rest of my life. I have 8 more stitches to be removed (was 16 at one point), and I have a developing Cataract that needs to be removed.

Between the cataract and the stitches still making my cornea (now partially flat like a table top), it severely impacts the quality of my vision.

We are hoping that in the next few months, I will get some glasses. If that cannot be done, then even with still having stitches in, I will have to have the Cataract removed BEFORE glasses.

In eight weeks though, I look to getting probably another two to five stitches taken out of my eye. That alone will help a bit.

Leiah said...

My grandfather had a corneal transplant because he developed herpes in his eye. He had a fever blister and some of the fluid from the blister made its way into his eye and then the blisters formed in his eye. He had a very difficult time afterwards. We could not take pictures using a flash because of the intense pain it gave him. I always thought that was the saddest thing. We could only take his picture if we were outside - no Christmas, family dinners around the table, etc. unless the interior light was just right and the picture wouldn't come out too dark.

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