Posted by Rae Heston
REALLY KNOWS:  Palm Beach Rotary president Kevin McDonnell has had two corneal transplants
DONATELIFE Week — encouraging people to sign up as potential organ and tissue donors —  means a lot to the Rotary Club of Palm Beach president, Kevin McDonnell.
He would not have had his military and police career without two corneal transplants, he said, when reminding club members that  the promotional effort ended on Sunday, August 4.
A quick head count at a recent Palm Beach Rotary meeting showed half the members were already on the Australian Organ Donor Register. One member, Lara Hall, said she registered because her mother gave permission for her late father's organs to be harvested when he died.
Kevin's need for a transplant arose from a childhood eye injury in 1969. “It was all done through the Lions Eye Institute,” he said.  “I have had two corneal transplants because the tissue does not last forever.
“The first one in 1993 took my sight from the largest letter on the eye chart to 5/6, which is pretty good.”
Kevin had missed out on an earlier transplant because he was in Cape Leveque and could not get to Perth quickly enough.  “We had to put it off until I could get back to Perth,” he recalled.
His surgery was carried out by associate professor Ian Crawford, who also worked on his iris and did two lens implants. “They guarantee it for five years,” Kevin  said. His current cornea has lasted nine years “and shows no signs of clouding up — it’s been good”.
His one regret is that he has never found the name of his donors.  “You can't write a letter to say thank you, unless the families want it of course,” he said. “I am registered to be a donor of course,” he said.  “Having been a recipient I know how much it means.
“I would have been blind in one eye otherwise and would not have had my career in the military or police. If  your sight is not good, you are out.”
To register, visit .