In Loving Memory of
When we went to bed on Feb. 22, 2010 we did not know we would receive a phone call at 1:23am on the 23rd that our son Brandon was not breathing. He was in Breckenridge, CO to ski. It had taken 10 years and 7 wrist surgeries to recover from a car accident. He was finally able to ski again. We’d spoken to him on Sunday night, he’d arrived safe and sound and was planning to get up early to ski. (Photo is of Diane and her son, Brandon, taken from a family photo.)
It seemed like hours until we heard the words, “your son has passed away”. We were devastated but the doctor was very compassionate. I immediately told him that Brandon’s wish & ours was that they use whatever of Brandon’s body possible to help someone. They couldn't use his organs but they could use his eyes, skin, muscle & bone. I was very excited to hear this because he was a recipient of a donated tendon.
Hard as it was to realize our son was gone & we would not see him again, we were thankful to God that others might be helped. They couldn’t use both of his corneas for transplant, so one went for research. The good cornea was flown to Dublin, Ireland…
It's almost 3 years since I sat in the Eye and Ear Hospital in Dublin, Ireland after my cornea transplant. I couldn't believe that I had finally had the surgery and was on the road to better vision.
Each year my vision deteriorated. I tried contact lenses and changed my glasses regularly. I struggled to read music. I was studying, but reading was getting harder and harder. Eventually, surgery was the only option and I found myself in that hospital bed.
During my stay in hospital I thought about where the cornea might have come from. I wondered whose it was and figured someone somewhere was mourning the loss of a loved one. I made up my mind that eventually I would try to contact them. I prayed that I might bring some comfort when I did. (Photo: Annmarie and the photo of Brandon emailed to her by Brandon's mother, Diane.)
I had been sent information to contact the recipient of Brandon’s cornea by the Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Bank (RMLEB). It took me almost 1 year to be able to write a letter about our son. Finally I was able to and was anxious to know if the person that had received it was interested in knowing about Brandon and our family.
We were so excited to find out who had received sight and that she wanted to contact us. We have been in contact with each other for almost 2 years. What a wonderful feeling to know that she has excellent vision because of my son. Our family have always been advocates of organ donation.
I got a call from the eye hospital to say that the Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Bank had written to them requesting permission to forward a letter from my donor's family. I had often thought about the family in the year following the surgery and was delighted that they had come looking for me.
After a couple of exchanges via RMLEB, we eventually made direct contact. My surgery had taken place just days after Brandon had died and his mom had always wondered where the cornea had gone.
We are now dear friends are in regular contact. And I think my prayer was answered. It has brought some comfort to Brandon's family to know who has the cornea and how it has benefitted me.
I am grateful to the RMLEB & the wonderful young lady that has my son’s cornea. One day I hope she can visit the USA and we will meet and I can see my son in her. I want to look at her right eye and say, “Thank You Lord”. (Photo: Brandon's parents, Bill and Diane)
The recovery was long. It took two years before I could get a proper prescription for my glasses. But now… what a difference! I can read books, I can read music from its original score (no more having to have it enlarged). I used to have a real problem driving in the dark because of the glare of street lights and car headlamps, but now I can drive with no problem at night. There were times when I knew there was a step in front me of my but I would be unsure as to whether it was a step up or a step down. It's all so different now and I thank the RMLEB and Brandon :)
Diane Tucker – mom of cornea donor Brandon Tucker
Annmarie Miles – recipient of Brandon Tucker’s cornea
The Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Bank would like to thank Diane and Annmarie for sharing their stories. We'd also like to thank Brandon and all our eye donors, who manage to humble and inspire us every day.