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Voices of Donation

Marty Mosley

Marty Mosley

Can you imagine how different your life would be if you couldn’t see the information on a bottle of medicine or a menu at a restaurant or even pass a simple eye test at the DMV despite wearing prescription eye glasses at the strongest correction? Now imagine you are only a child and your world is getting less clear with every year that passes. Marty Mosley was just 10 years old when his vision started to fail. “Initially my vision problems were easily handled with simple changes,” Marty said. “I started wearing glasses, sat in the front row of the class room to see the board, and sat closer to the TV. Lots of kids did things like that so it didn’t seem strange.”

In June of 1989, Marty’s opinion about his declining vision changed. The excitement he felt going to the Department of Motor Vehicles in Georgia to get his learner’s permit was crushed when he was told that his vision was so bad that even with prescription glasses, he was not eligible to receive his permit.

“That was the turning point for my mom and she decided it was time to see a specialist”, Marty said. The specialist referred Marty to a corneal specialist in late 1989 and again, a number of tests were done to determine what was causing Marty’s vision problems. They were not prepared for the results of the tests, “My mom and I were waiting in the doctor’s office for the results and when we got the news, we were both floored and scared.”

The results of the tests were explained, and the diagnosis was severe Keratoconus, a degenerative condition that causes a cone-shaped protrusion of the cornea. The prognosis was not good and unless something was done to change it, Marty would eventually become legally blind in both eyes. Marty was just 16 years old and the thought of losing his vision was devastating. The doctor’s recommendation was corneal transplants in both eyes. Fortunately, their doctor was skilled with the use of donated corneal tissue for this type of condition and surgical procedure.

“In Oct of 1989 I had the transplant in my right eye and six months later had the transplant in my left,” Marty said. “Within a matter of weeks of my first transplant, my vision started to stabilize and within six months of my second transplant my vision had improved so much that I was able to do many things that a normal teenager was able to do.”

Marty says he remembers the day he picked up his new prescription glasses, “I didn’t say a word as we drove home from the eye doctor that day. I was so overwhelmed by the way the world looked through my new glasses and I realized how much I had missed before. It was hard for my teenage mind to grasp the magnitude of the change that had happened because of the surgery.”

“When we got home, my mom finally asked me if everything was ok and if my glasses seemed to be the right prescription,” he said. “My response to her was ‘I didn’t know things looked like this.’”

Marty never forgot that his life was changed by a gift from someone who has passed and when an opportunity presented itself, he began his life’s work in donation. He went to work at the Georgia Eye Bank in the summer of 1996 and has worked for organizations in the organ, tissue, and eye industry ever since. “I believe that what we do is very important and makes a huge difference in many lives every day. I live each day knowing how precious the gift of life is and how important it is that tissue is available for people, who like me, may not be presented with a lifesaving need for a transplant but certainly who had a life changing one because of the donated corneal tissue.”

Today, Marty enjoys golf, tennis, softball, camping and being outside. “I coach all three of my kid’s baseball teams,” he said. “I also enjoy working with my hands and building things. I live a normal life and can do pretty much anything I want to do.”

Marty said he and his wife, Kerri, love spending time with their three children, Connor, 7, Rylie, 6, and Hayden, 5. They love doing everything from playing baseball to going to movies, or just reading books at bedtime.

“Although I will never know the donor families who made my transplant possible, I will forever be thankful for their decision to donate.”