Sister Henrietta Gesinski, also known as Sister Junie, recently received the gift of improved sight through a cornea transplant.
At birth, Sister Junie was totally blind in both eyes due to a rare chronic condition known as congenital cataracts. When she was just a toddler, she underwent a series of surgeries that removed the cataracts from both eyes and gave Sister Junie the gift of limited vision in both eyes.
About 25 years ago, Sister Junie developed problems in her left eye with cornea edema, or swelling of the cornea, which led to a gradual blurring of her already limited sight. Then, about 5 years ago, she developed an ulcer on her left cornea which took 6 months to heal. Unfortunately, in January 2015, Sister Junie developed another ulcer in the same eye that was much more serious. The previous ulcer and edema had severely damaged her cornea, and the ulcer currently on her cornea would not heal. A cornea transplant was required to preserve Sister Junie's eyesight in her left eye.
The cornea is a clear, dome-shaped, surface that covers the front of the eye, and is the only part of the eye that can be transplanted. Each year, there are approximately 70,000 individuals who benefit from corneal transplants. Cornea donation is not dependent on age, eye color, blood type or even eye sight quality as long as the cornea is healthy.
On February 5, 2015, Sister Junie underwent cornea transplant surgery on her left eye at the Marshfield Clinic Ambulatory Surgery Center. After the surgery, she immediately noticed improved clarity in her left eye. She states that "before the surgery, it was like looking at life through a cloud. Now I can see clearly. The surgery didn't change my eyeglass prescription, but it did allow me to see things more clearly."
Sister Junie does not know anything about her cornea donor, but she thinks of and prays for this person every day. Sister Junie states, "Someone had to give their life so that I could have this gift, and I am so grateful. I want to pay it forward by becoming an organ donor myself."