Terminally ill Rosie vows to donate her corneas to give the gift of sight

72-year-old Rosie Harris, a long time hospice volunteer, decided to donate after learning she had terminal cancer 18 months ago.

13 October 2022
I had never really considered donation before

This World Sight Day (Thursday, October 13), Rosie is calling on others to speak with their families and register their support for cornea donation.

Rosie and her friend Barbara smile for a photo in a sunny location

Image, left to right: Rosie and her friend Barbara.

Far more people can donate corneas than can donate organs. Corneas do not contain blood vessels, so most cancers and other diseases cannot be passed on to the recipient. Corneas can also be used from donors of any age.

However, many older people are not aware they can safely and successfully donate. There is a general shortage of donors, and NHS Blood and Transplant’s eye banks only have around 228 corneas in stock, compared to the 350 needed.

Rosie Harris, from Romford in Essex, decided to donate after being diagnosed with stage 4 cancer that has spread through her neck and spine.

She was initially given six months to 12 months to live but it is now 18 months since diagnosis.

Rosie feels that donating is a natural step. She worked as a stockbroker and in an employment agency, and then went to volunteer at a hospice for 17 years, St Francis Hospital, providing massage treatment to the patients.

She has been admitted to the same hospice herself three times over the past 18 months, receiving great support and empathy - and was given a leaflet on cornea donation.

Rosie says: “I had never really considered donation before, but when I read the leaflet I knew it was something I wanted to do.

“My sister-in-law had a double cornea graft years ago and she was so thankful to the people who had donated their corneas, to allow her to live a life full of sight.

“I would encourage everyone to think about organ and tissue donation. I speak to lots of people about it. Everyone has their own fears but I find speaking helps.

“Once you explain the difference that cornea donation can make people are more likely to consider it. I know from my sister-in-law how wonderful cornea donation is.”

She adds; “I am intrigued as to who the recipients of my corneas will be.

“I think how nice it must be for them to receive this gift that will be loved and cherished, how much gratitude they must feel that they have had this passed onto them.

“Do they know how much it means to the donor? I am happy to give it and hope it will bring them happiness too.”

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Remember to:

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