Alvin shares his experience at Kensington Eye Institute for a cornea transplant.
Donor tissue saved my sight
Alvin Hallett, 82, is no stranger to vision impairment. It all started with a cataract in his right eye. During the procedure to have his cataract removed, there was a complication that damaged his cornea. After multiple visits to the doctor, and recognizing that his damaged cornea would not heal on its own, Alvin was referred to Kensington Eye Institute for a cornea transplant.
An expert in the outdoors
Alvin went to high school in Burks Falls, north of Barrie, and spent his evenings working on his father’s large dairy farm. Alvin, and his twin brother, would eventually take over the farm in 1964, where he tended to 50 cows.
Alvin, in 1972, takes his daughter on a play date with the calves on his dairy farm.
Happily married with two children and two grandchildren, Alvin loved exploring the great outdoors. To his surprise, an un-expecting cataract and damaged cornea would greatly affect the things he loved to do.
“My favourite thing to do was drive on the lake. I even built a full-service marina and boat storage,” said Alvin. “But with my vision impairment, I was now unable to see on water. I felt very dependent at this time. I’m really grateful for my wife, who took on the additional responsibilities that I could not do anymore.”
After selling their dairy farm in 1975, Alvin (left), and his wife, Shirley (right), moved to the lake where they would take over Shirley’s parents’ cottage business. Alvin would build a marina in 1985.
Providing faith and hope
Alvin was referred to Dr. Clara Chan, Medical Director of The Eye Bank of Canada (Ontario Division), and Ophthalmologist specializing in cornea and cataract surgeries at Kensington Eye Institute. In August 2017, Dr. Chan performed a successful cataract surgery on Alvin’s left eye, and in April 2018, performed a successful cornea transplant in Alvin’s right eye.
Fifteen minutes after his surgery, Alvin was overjoyed that he could see the room around him. Not only was he ecstatic at the success of the surgery, he was pleasantly surprised at the compassionate care and attention each employee had given him. “One of the assistants took time out of their busy day to escort me downstairs, in my wheelchair, to my taxi,” said Alvin. “I thought to myself that they didn’t have to do that, but they did it because they really wanted to help me and make sure I was safe.”
Words can’t express how thankful I am
Alvin recognized that without the generosity of individuals willing to register as an organ and tissue donor, his procedure to restore his sight would not be possible.
“I want to thank the person, and their family, who donated their cornea. I wish I could meet you and thank you. I never fully realized what I had until I lost it, and because of your donation, I can see the world again,” said Alvin. “There are many people in Ontario, in Canada and around the world that need eye tissue, and the help that donors provide is crucial and important. Your help can make life better for those in need.”