“It seems like they can do just about anything.”

By Ben Frotscher
After an unsuccessful cornea transplant, Donna Johnson entrusted the University of Iowa with her vision care. Now, with renewed sight, she's giving back to advance cornea research.
Photo of Donna Johnson

It was supposed to be a quick, relatively simple, and painless procedure for Donna Johnson. Instead, a cornea transplant in her hometown of Peoria, Illinois, went horribly wrong and left Donna with no vision in her left eye.

"When my left eye started to heal, I had a retina detach," says Donna, who has lived with Fuchs' dystrophy, an eye disease in which cells lining the inner surface of the cornea slowly die off, since the 1980s. "I went to the hospital to have it repaired, and the retina detached again. There was so much trauma to my left eye that there was nothing else they could do."

As the years passed, Donna struggled with vision issues—including double vision and a lack of depth perception. When she started to have troubles with her right eye and lost her driver's license, her son suggested she seek care from doctors at University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics. When Donna had a cornea transplant in 2013, the procedure—completed by Mark Greiner, MD—was a success.

"I've been so tremendously happy with the care I've received—and continue to receive—in Iowa City," says Donna, who was able to regain her driver's license in 2015 and still has nearly 20/20 vision in her right eye.

Because of the vision-saving care she received at University of Iowa Health Care, as well as the care she continues to receive, Donna makes annual gifts to the UI Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and the Iowa Lions Eye Bank—which provided the new cornea for her right eye. Through a bequest in her estate plans, Donna also will support vision research at Iowa through the creation of the Donna M. Johnson Cornea Research Fund.

"The research the University of Iowa is doing is so tremendous," says Donna. "Since they're always doing research and looking for new cures, I'm hoping my gift can help them find a cure for the issues I've had with my left eye.

"It seems like they can do just about anything."

Learn how you can make a difference at the University of Iowa by visiting our planned giving website, or contact Susan J. Hagan, JD at susan.hagan@foriowa.org or 800-648-6973 or 319-335-3305.

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