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Giving and Receiving
Ambassadors • Testimonials • Awareness Activities & Tools

Thinking about becoming a volunteer?
Read what others have to say about the experience.

“My two corneal transplants are a miracle in my life. Without them, I would not have the quality of life that I now have. I feel like I am on HD flat screen TV all the time everyday, which I’ve never experienced before in my life. I continue to speak on organ and tissue donation out of thanks and appreciation for my amazing eyesight. I cannot give back enough!”
-Don Rowley, bilateral cornea transplant recipient 

“I never imagined being a part of such an amazing organization that was dedicated to the restoration of sight. I became involved with Eversight as a technician to dip my feet into the medical field, but little did I know I would fall in love with its mission. I quickly became passionate about my part in the mission because of my own personal experience. I started wearing glasses when I was 7 years old and for the first time felt how difficult it was to not be able to find something without my glasses. Like any job, there are difficult days, but the inspirational wall of donor family and recipient letters gives me a daily reminder of the greater cause and provides a great source of motivation. I began volunteering with Eversight two years ago at the Walk for Sight. I remember being nervous about meeting donor families and recipients because I didn't know what to expect. I never imagined I would feel such a sense of gratitude and appreciation for what these families had to give. It was not only a rewarding experience but it certainly helped put motivation into my personal bank for those difficult days.”
-Liliana Suarez, Corporate Clinical Training Technician

“At the beginning, I was just a graduate looking for work and excited to start working in the donation field, specifically helping those affected by the loss of sight. When working on the donation side of eye banking, you are aware of a portion of the donors' stories that you come across, but often need to focus on gathering all the required information accurately and efficiently so that the great gift of eye tissue for transplant can be provided to someone who needs it. From time to time, I would find myself reading cards received from donor families thanking our organization for the opportunity for their loved ones to have helped a person in need or recipients thanking us for finally being able to see again. Reading stories and thank you notes helps remind us of the importance and value of the work we do. Being able to volunteer on occasion and meet some of the donor families and recipients who have been touched by such great gifts is a true honor. Knowing that we are helping some during difficult times of life and helping others to see the face of their children or loved ones once their sight has been regained is very rewarding. I am happy to have the opportunity to be a witness to such touching stories.”
-Sarah Mittler, bilateral cornea transplant recipient

“I can see! Each and every day is a miracle to me. I can see things I haven't seen in years, the most important being the faces of my family. I tell people in store lines the experience I have had because of two generous donors and their families. I tell them how every day I am grateful for things I took for granted. I tell them how I can count individual petals on flowers and ask them if they can do the same. When I share my experience, whether it be informal or a scheduled event, I tell people how grateful I am for the opportunity to share my experience as a recipient and also the opportunity to thank every person – the donors, their families, all those at the Illinois Eye Bank and the hospitals – because had it not been for each person, I would not be able to share the beautiful gift of sight with others!”
-Jennifer Suarez, Quality Improvement Coordinator

“When our 22-year-old son, John Lefferts, passed away Oct. 11, 2004 from an undetected aortic dissecting aneurysm, there was no hesitation that he would have wanted to be a donor. John was, in fact, a cornea, bone and tissue donor whose donations have touched 37 people across the United States. We know that two people in Missouri are seeing the world through John's corneas and that gives us tremendous comfort. As we work to spread the need for others to register to be donors, we often stress that this is a something you can do for your family upon your death.  We encourage people to join their state's registry and discuss their wishes with family. In fact, in our opinion, this is the last great gift you can leave for your family, the chance to know that your life goes on. Our work as Ambassadors for Eversight Illinois allows us to spread our son John's story, and to encourage others to consider donation.”
-Vivian and Larry Lefferts, donor family

“My name is Jeff Govednik. I am a pharmacist, a musician and a comedian. Most importantly, I am a two-time cornea graft recipient. I was given more than just the gift of sight. I have been given a gift of future experiences, and a gift of perspective. I was given the gift of being able to help others. Often people don’t think about donation because they don’t feel it affects them. Eventually you will have a friend or family member, or possibly yourself, who will have the need [for a transplant]. I can only hope that whoever is in need can have the gift of life and future experiences that I have received. When I was first losing my sight, I thought life as I knew it was over. My life has changed – now it’s way more fun.”
-Jeff Govednik, bilateral cornea transplant recipient


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