John recently lost his son, a pilot in training, in a plane crash. The photos he submitted this year were from a flight he took with him while he was studying to become a commercial pilot. “Now, my eyes are the only way people can understand the love of flight my son had.”
John has also completed two Ironman triathlons- one in August 2014 and another in 2018, just two months after tragically losing his son. Finishing an Ironman triathlon is no small feat. But for a bilateral cornea transplant recipient, it is almost unheard of. John twice completed the grueling 140.6 mile excursion in Boulder, Colorado. “It was a commitment to do something I once thought impossible.”
John was born with Keratoconus, a disorder that causes thinning of the cornea and visual distortion. His doctor determined he would be a good candidate for a bilateral transplant- corneal transplants in both eyes. Surgery on his left eye was completed in December 2014. Six months later, he received a cornea transplant in the other eye. “I am very thankful and blessed everyday with the vision that I have gained from the transplants.”
His right eye is considered 20/25 with no need for a corrective lens, while his left eye is 20/20 with a lens.
John has written letters to his donor family but has not yet received a response. “I told them how grateful I am and thanked them for the selfless gift I was so fortunate to receive. I informed them that I completed the Ironman competition and that I hope the spirit of my donor lives through me and my active lifestyle that I am now able to enjoy. That is a huge part of my life, and now their family member is part of that.”