Cornea: The transparent part of the outer coat of the eyeball.
The cornea covers the iris and pupil. Light enters through a transparent curved shell called the cornea, the space immediately behind which is filled with a liquid aqueous humor.
Hundreds of men, women and children are waiting patiently for cornea transplants to restore their sight, which are available from the Eye Bank of New York. This organization depends upon corneas harvested from persons who agreed to donate them upon their death.
An organization known as the New York Registry maintains the names of donors. By merely signing the back of your driver’s license, you enable the registry to allow transplants to take place. Online registry can also take place at eyedonation.org.
A few years ago, I addressed this gift of sight with a poem:
“An I for an Eye”
It has been written
An eye for an eye
Why an eye for an eye?
When one can give
An I for an eye
In other words,
The eye is part of
The living I
And will not function
If the I dies.
It is therefore clear
That the eye is eternal only
As long as the I survives,
As long as the I loved the I
I will give an
Eye for an eye
If you and I are
Information concerning cornea transplants can be obtained from the Eye Bank of New York at eyedonation.org or by calling (212) 742-9000.
During the Korean War, I was part of a unit that helped identify those who had died in battle. I often reflect now on all of the wasted organs that could have saved so many who needed transplants in a peaceful nation. The following poem, I share with you.
“Transplant Organs with a War-Ranty”
Hear ye, hear ye, hear ye
Perfect organs are available
For harvesting and transplanting
Accessible with a war-ranty
Unfortunately, brains are unavailable
The organs are fresh and unblemished.
They have been removed
Without pain or refusal
From fallen soldiers and innocent casualties
Of many nations.
There are fresh corneas
To restore lost vision
And the rising and setting of Brother Sun.
Plenty of healthy hearts
To replace broken hearts
Which were filled with forgotten
Memories of days gone by.
Precious kidneys galore
Are salvageable to remove waste
To cleanse bodies and souls
To provide holy water for baptism.
Come one, come all
To the battlefields and bombed out cities.
It’s harvest time for organs
That have a war-ranty not to fail
Even if we humans have failed God,
The creator of us all.
To quote Thomas Adams (1612-1653), an English Anglican clergyman and historian, “The eye is the pulse of the soul, as physicians judge the heart by the pulse, so we, by the eye.”
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