Thanks to four cornea donors and their families, Teresa sees and lives life in bright, vivid color.
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.”
At the ages of 22 and 24, Teresa received her first two cornea transplants from donors in El Paso, Texas. For the first time in almost four years, her world turned from dark and gray to bright, vivid color.
Over the years, Teresa’s vision began to decrease again. Though her doctors assured her she wasn’t experiencing rejection, they did recommend another cornea transplant in each eye. As a long-time Happy Valley resident, her transplants were performed in Portland, with corneas recovered by Lions VisionGift. In October 2016, she received a right cornea, and in December 2017, she received a left cornea.
In April 2018, Teresa was able to meet the family of one of the donors who helped her to be able to see her beautiful daughter’s dimpled face again – Robert Esparza of Gresham. Teresa had been praying and waiting for that opportunity and felt that meeting Robert’s family was another amazing gift to her. To be able to thank Robert’s dad, Simon (pictured below) for supporting his decision to help others was a wonderful feeling, and her hope is that she can give them a sense of peace and comfort as they have given her the gift of sight.
As a four-time cornea recipient, as well as a Bilingual Donor Contact Representative for Be the Match bone marrow donor program, Teresa urges others, “Share your blessings! Become an organ, bone marrow, eye, and tissue donor. Also, support your loved one’s decision to help many patients in need: deciding to give someone life or sight after you are gone – it’s amazing – the most beautiful, and selfless action of compassion!”