2019 Mary Jane O’Neill Fellowship in International Eye Banking Personal Account

MARY JANE O’NEILL FELLOWSHIP EXPERIENCE: a dream come true

Célia Regina Malveste Ito, Eye Bank of Federal University of Goiás, Brazil


When I received the email from EBAA, I was affected by various feelings such as excitement, fear, insecurity, and extreme happiness. I was honored by this great opportunity, but also knew my responsibility in achieving this international experience.

The EBAA Annual Meeting 2019 was a very special and remarkable experience. The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess was a wonderful venue. To be able to see and hear about eye bank innovations, key techniques, and especially network with exceptional people who work at eye banks and have the highest quality and professionalism, was great. The event schedule was excellent, in each presentation and discussion I learned something new. Three moments were most striking: when I attended the interactive slit lamp microscopy session, when I presented my work that was completed in my post-graduate at the Scientific Symposium, and the most thrilling thing was listening to a donor family member and a cornea recipient share their experiences. That made me more sure of what I want to do and the importance of my job which is helping people see again.

All of the people were very nice and friendly to me. I am grateful to the President of the Eye Bank Association of America, Kevin Corcoran, for the opportunity, as well as to Genevieve and Stacey for all the logistics and support.

One week after the EBAA Annual Meeting, I was warmly welcomed by the entire Lions Gift of Sight team at the University of Minnesota in Saint Paul, MN. Sean Poppoff, Executive Director, along with Patty Stockdale, Ching Yuan and Gene Keating all welcomed me during the Annual Meeting, so when I arrived at the first day of work it was as if I was already part of the team.

My mentor in this exceptional week was Veronique Grimes, Laboratory Operations Manager, who showed me all the work logistics and created a schedule including all aspects of the job and to make the most of my time.

I also learned the different DSEK, DMEK and DSAEK tissue preparation techniques with Gene, Peter, and Veronique. They were all patient and showed me what they do best – thank you all. I learned a little of everything from almost all the staff and would like to thank Lori, Jennifer, Grecia, Gabriel, Mary, Wallis, Patrick, Ching, Natalie and all the others on the team who indirectly provided me with the realization of my dream and my professional qualification. Thank you, Lions Gift of Sight from the University of Minnesota for your affection and I loved the potluck!

Once again, I thank the EBAA, the selection committee, and the Lions Gift of Sight staff for this opportunity. The Mary Jane O’Neill Fellowship has improved my knowledge and I will certainly go to other eye banks in Brazil.


EBAA thanks Lions Gift of Sight for hosting the 2019 Mary Jane O”Neill Fellow and to The Eye-Bank for Sight Restoration for their continued support of this program.