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Rosie's Legacy - the gift of sight

Since Saint Francis Hospice’s cornea donation programme was launched,  over 100 patients have donated their corneas and given the gift of sight to up to 10 children and adults. As part of Organ Donation Week (20-26 September), we're sharing Rosie's story about why she signed up to donate her corneas.

Rose Harris with therapist Klaire Craven 2 (cropped)

I was a volunteer therapist at Saint Francis Hospice for 17 years. I loved it. I was part of a small team and we were able to give different treatments such as reiki, reflexology, and massage.

 

Patients on the ward needed my services the most but I also gave treatments to patients who would come in for the day.

 

I would help people to relax and ease their stress and pain and they used to really open up to me.

 

I was still volunteering when my mum Rose Kean became ill and was cared for on the ward. But I stopped volunteering when she passed away in 2017.

 

In September last year, I was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. I was referred to the Hospice as I knew I would be able to get the quality support that I needed. Initially, it was my partner who was in touch with the Family Support team as he needed that more.

 

In February, I was admitted to the ward for symptom control and pain relief. It made a 100% difference. It gave me time to reflect. Time to jump off the bus and be present. That’s the beauty of the Hospice, it gives you that space to do that.

 

Rose

 

While I was on the ward, the consultant Dr Pia Amsler spoke to me about the Hospice’s corneal donation programme. 

 

My own experience of corneal donation was through my sister-in-law Christine who, through a one in a million chance, suffered a burn to both of her eyes because the contact lens fluid she used was contaminated. 

 

I really felt everything had come together and it was meant to be. I was a volunteer at the Hospice, I became a patient and Christie had received a double corneal transplant.

 

She was advised to attend Moorfields Eye Hospital in London where she received her full treatment over several weeks. She gradually had light at the end of the tunnel sight-wise, although to our standards very little.

 

But time and medication soon gave her the hope of sight which made us all cry with delight and full appreciation to the person who gave her this life gift of sight. 

 

Christie was a nurse at Guys Hospital at the time and the transplant enabled her to carry on with her life.

 

Then nine years ago Christie needed a cataract operation. Back then it was extremely rare for this procedure to be carried out on a cornea transplant and specialists came from all over the world to the training hospital in Glasgow where the operation was carried out.

 

She told me it was like looking through stained glass and once the cataract was taken away, it was absolutely clear.

I think it is lovely that you can leave something of you behind and it is going to make such a difference to someone else’s life.

 

For more advice or information, please call NHS Organ Donation on 0800 432 0559. Or for enquiries specific to Saint Francis Hospice, please call Louise Vandermark, PA to the medical team, on 01708 753319 ext. 2204.

 

Support the Hospice

To help us to continue to look after people like Rosie, and her family, consider making a either a one off or regular donation to the Hospice. 

 

A great way to support Hospice care is by playing the Lottery. For just £1 per week, you can be in with a chance of winning £1000 every single week, while supporting the Hospice and ensuring our care can continue. Click here to find out more. 

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