By: Jaime Tellez, Cornea transplant recipient
In 2008, at six years old, I developed aggressive cataracts on both eyes that grew so quickly that I was nearly blind within four weeks of being diagnosed. Soon after having surgery on both of my eyes, surgeons determined that I had cornea damage on my right eye from the surgery and needed a transplant.
I received a successful partial cornea transplant and was able to go from near blindness to needing only one eye drop per day and my glasses to enjoy all of the activities that I had been restricted from doing prior to my transplant. I was given a new opportunity to be able to see all that life has to offer, thanks to my donor.
As a member of the Latino community, it is important that I share my story this week because August 1-7 marks the 18th annual National Minority Donor Awareness Week. National Minority Awareness Week honors minorities who have been donors and encourages others to register as donors. To help increase awareness of the need for more organ, eye and tissue donors, especially among minorities, and to honor my donor, my family and I will be planting a tree on Friday, August 5 at 10 a.m. at Del Mar Park in Aurora, Colorado.
In sharing my story, I am hopeful that I can help to inspire others to say “yes” to organ, eye and tissue donation. DonateLifeColorado.org is a great resource with the facts you need to make an informed decision about donation and register as a donor online. You can also register by saying “yes” when you are obtaining a driver license or state ID. Anyone can register to be an organ, eye and tissue donor, regardless of age, race, medical history, religion or income. Even those with chronic conditions, such as hepatitis and diabetes, can register to give the gift of life at any age.