Jeff Govednik is an avid volunteer for Donate Life Illinois. His resolute passion for spreading awareness of organ and tissue donation is the product of a life changed by the gift of sight through cornea transplantation. Jeff is a shining example of how organ and tissue donation changes the lives of those who are so fortunate to receive a lifesaving or life-enhancing gift. We are fortunate that Jeff graciously agreed to share his story to celebrate March as National Eye Donor Month.
Initially, I thought that my eyesight was just getting a little weak. I had problems playing baseball and lost a few golf balls. I also strained while reading or driving. With time, my eyesight gradually worsened. Upon visiting the optometrist to get a pair of glasses, I was told that I needed to see a specialist.
I remember the first time I heard the word “keratoconus.” The doctor explained to me that Keratoconus is a degenerative disease of the corneas that causes patients to gradually lose the ability to see detail. My doctor was able to slow the progression of the disease for a time, but eventually it evolved to where I was unable to see with my left eye. It became apparent that a cornea transplant was the only treatment that could restore my vision.
It was a sobering moment when my doctor called the Illinois Eye-Bank. I was no longer worried about sports or long weekends. I was now scared that I would lose my job as a pharmacist. Would I be able to participate in all of the hobbies that I enjoyed? How would my life change?
My first cornea transplant was in 1999, and my second was in 2009. I was given more than the gift of sight—I was given perspective. I now savor every sunset, value every walk and appreciate every bike ride. Did my life change? Absolutely. Can I do everything that I did before? No, but I gained an appreciation for the things that I could do. I am still a pharmacist, and I am able to continue pursuing my love of sports.
Please, take 30 seconds to register your decision to be an organ and tissue donor at DonateLifeIllinois.org.