Joe’s Story

As Valentine’s Day approaches, many people will be giving their sweetheart a card or perhaps some chocolates as they celebrate the love in their life. For Joe Johnson, he will be celebrating the anniversary of his cornea surgery and the generous donor family who gave him the chance to see again. As Joe says, “I’m a faithful person and I say a prayer for my donors. They are always, always in my prayers. So in gratitude I thank God for them, for giving them the wisdom to check that box on their license.”

Several years ago, Joe’s vision in his right eye was getting worse and worse due to Fuchs Dystrophy. As his sight deteriorated, he found himself unable to read even the large “E” at the top of the eye chart in the doctor’s office. Everything seemed like it was always in a blur. Joe relayed how scared he felt as the world literally closed in around him while his vision diminished.

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Teresa Rambaud

Teresa Rambaud was only 14 when she was diagnosed with Keratoconus – a progressive eye disease that affects the cornea. In spite of this, at the age of 17, Teresa was able to visit Silverton, Oregon as an exchange student from Mexico.

By the time Teresa was 20, she had become totally blind. Life was dark and difficult at times, and she would often fall and hurt herself. Teresa was incredibly grateful for the care and support of the teachers and classmates who got her through school – assisting with studying and even giving her tests orally. But Teresa’s family made the greatest sacrifices, assisting her each day and routinely loading their large family into the car for 12-hour round trips to El Paso, Texas, to see eye specialists. Teresa got through it by focusing on the good moments of her life. She says, “Even when I was blind, I have always been able to see my blessings.” 

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Mary Marcelonis: LVG’s First Donor for Ocular Research

When Lions VisionGift opened a location in the Seaport area of Boston in 2017, one of our commitments to the local community was to finally make ocular research tissue donation a reality. Two years later, on June 13th, 2019, LVG made good on that commitment. But it wasn’t LVG alone, it took one woman’s lifetime of giving, and the tenacity of her loving son to make it happen.

The day before, June 12th, Brian Marcelonis was contemplating what to do once his mother, Mary Murphy Marcelonis, who suffered from dementia, passed away. Having recently looked through some family files and spoken with his mother, Brian was proud of the fact that both his grandmother and mother wished to have their brains donated for dementia research. While he knew of his mother’s wishes to donate her brain for research, he wondered if there was anything more that could be done to help others with eye issues as there were many members of his mother’s family that had suffered from eye problems. As Brian says, “That’s what my mom was all about, helping other people”.

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