This composition was a winning submission in the 2015 “Through My Eyes” Art Contest during National Eye Donor Month.
Irish Eyes Continue Smiling
Written by Patty Monson, daughter
The act of giving through organ, eye and tissue donation creates a legacy. The illness that took my mom’s life, also consumed her financial resources. You could say that in the end, her portfolio contained just one holding. Mom’s legacy became her written request to be an organ, eye, and tissue donor.
She couldn’t have known, when she made her end-of-life wishes known, how far reaching her gift would become, or how many personal and professional lives her gift would enhance.
Other donor families have journeys similar to ours, in that we supported our loved one’s wishes. Some families though, are the decision makers, whether on their own or with the assistance of a medical team, choosing donation in the moments that mattered.
Some learn that their loved ones corneas have given the gift of sight. Others may learn, like we did, that mom’s corneas were unable to be used for transplant. The same medical conditions that prevented all other forms of anatomical donation also messed with this. That was tough to hear.
In our initial disappointment, it was easy to think that somehow mom’s gift didn’t mean as much, that it wasn’t as important as she intended. So I did a little research of my own, and learned more about the Minnesota Lions Eye Bank, more about cornea transplantation, and ultimately, more about the research that makes this all possible. That’s when my disappointment turned to excitement.
I discovered that not long after mom became a donor, the eye bank announced it would become one of just a few eye banks in the country to offer a new procedure. Bit by bit, I shared with my family what I was learning, in hopes that they would come to feel better about mom’s gift of research tissue like I was.
And then, it was our turn to attend a Donor Family Recognition Program. It would be during the words of the University of Minnesota’s Dr. Deborah Farrington on that day regarding the importance of and advancements in research that I saw my family begin nodding with acceptance.
A scientist needed mom’s eyes to study the effects of thermal damage during surgery to correct mild to moderate far-sightedness. I am certain that my mom would be pleased to know that as a family, we not only accepted but have recognized and embraced the opportunity to help raise awareness of the need for donor tissue for transplant and research.
We like to tell people that mom was a lot proud to be a little bit Irish, and that her Irish Eyes would continue smiling through her selfless gift of the Minnesota Lions Eye Bank.
In life, “Mighty Monna,” as she was affectionately called, was fiercely loyal, dedicated, and extremely hard working. Supporting her gift by sharing her story and the story of donation assures that her work lives on.
This journey has given me the gift of sight – for it has given me the vision to be her voice.