Micki Gould: SightLife Cornea Recipient

At first, Micki Gould just thought she needed reading glasses. But as her vision got progressively worse, the 49-year-old operating room veteran knew she was in real trouble.

In the operating room, a loss of depth perception made it impossible for her to locate and secure the fine sutures used in open heart surgeries. After 28 years as a nurse with “go to” skills, she would soon be useless in the operating room. She could continue in her other capacity as a clinical nurse educator at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Bellingham, but for how long?

Even worse, fear became her frequent companion as self-sufficiency slipped away in what seemed like a thousand ways. Perhaps the last straw came when she panicked upon being separated from her husband during a trip to the shopping mall. She knew she was at the mall, but where in the mall? And how would she find her husband without being able to recognize his face from any sort of distance? Micki felt helpless and alone.

A visit to eye surgeon Dr. Thomas Gillette in Seattle revealed the problem. Complications from radial keratoplasty performed on her eyes 15 years prior were taking her vision. On November 22 of last year, Micki underwent the corneal transplant on her right eye that put her life back in order.

After years of assisting surgeons with tissue and organ recoveries that renewed hope and normal life for others, Micki Gould has found herself on the recipient side. And it feels great!

“I have to admit to some fear going into the surgery,” says Micki, “but the recovery and progress has been incredibly positive!”

By the time you read this story, she will have returned to Dr. Gillette for an assessment on whether her left eye also needs transplant surgery. Odds are high that the answer will be “yes,” because she has experienced a definite loss of vision in that eye as well.

This time she’s looking forward to the surgery. As a second timer, her attitude has evolved from fear to anticipation. “The sooner it’s done, the sooner my sight returns,” says Micki.

There’s one thing, however, that she will never take for granted. As one who has personally experienced the real-life drama of organ/tissue donation from both sides now – recovery and recipient – Micki Gould goes forward with a profound respect for the kindness of donors and for organizations like SightLife, who serve as caretakers of their gift.