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An Attitude of Gratitude

Cornea recipient Robert Williams doesn’t need to be coaxed to express his enthusiasm about the gift of sight that he considers “almost a miracle.” His cornea problem – keratoconus – was diagnosed when he was only about 13 years old. The disease causes a person’s cornea to become misshapen and thinned, distorting vision. As often happens with a keratoconus patient, Mr. Williams’ vision grew worse
and attempts at non-surgical treatments became futile. The use of glasses gave way to gas permeable contact lenses, but as the disease progressed and his vision was no longer sufficient to pass a driving test, he understood that a transplant was going to be necessary. As an entrepreneur, metal machinist, and avid motorcyclist, losing sight was affecting far too much of his life. But Mr. Williams was reluctant to undergo the procedure. He researched cornea transplants and didn’t like the idea of a long healing process and slow recovery of vision. Then – on the Internet, of course – he discovered the availability of a “new” transplant technique that intrigued him. He read of the partial-thickness transplant, a less invasive, stronger graft with a much more rapid path to healing and improved vision. It took awhile before he found someone who could answer all his questions about the surgery, until he contacted cornea surgeon Richard Erdey, M.D. Mr. Williams received the answers he’d been looking for, and had an overall “good vibe” interacting with the surgeon and his staff. Lacking health insurance coverage, once he heard that he was a good candidate for the partial-thickness transplant procedure, he gathered and borrowed from family the funds necessary to move forward. Prior to the transplant, Mr. Williams’ vision in his keratoconic eye was 20/300. After the procedure, on progressive post-op visits to the doctor he was 20/70, then 20/60, and 20/50 with correction. At his next visit, he’s hoping for 20/30. Mr. Williams describes himself as having “an attitude of gratitude.” He sees his 95-year-old grandfather every day, and is very thankful to have that opportunity. He cherishes those close to him, and explains his philosophy is to “treat friends like pieces of jewelry.” He still takes the time to write personal letters and thank-you notes, eschewing the modern tendency to dash off a quick e-mail. And he is an organ donor himself. He’s a believer that “you should change somebody’s life if you can.” He talks of his surgeon’s talent, knowledge, and staff in glowing terms, saying “everybody’s great at Dr. Erdey’s!” He keeps them in his prayers. His appreciation for the success of his cornea transplant is as clear as his new vision when he says, “It’s been an absolute blessing in my life.”

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