At age 24, a coal mine explosion blinded Guo Dong in both eyes. This disaster was followed by another that left him utterly despondent: his wife left him because Guo Dong could no longer work to support her. Little hope for survival remained for him and the two-year old daughter still in his care.
Guo Dong's second chance in life was delivered by Dr. Ronald Krueger of Cleveland, Ohio. On his first sight mission to China with transplant tissue from SightLife, Dr. Krueger found Guo Dong in a crowded clinic. Moved by his dire circumstances and determination to care for his daughter, the doctor ignored his better judgment to select him for surgery from among many less risky candidates. The dynamite blast had destroyed one eye beyond repair and left the other so severely damaged that chances for restored sight were marginal.
In the midst of despair came hope. Dr. Krueger credits "divine intervention," but his own empathy and skill surely played a hand in yielding a successful operation. A decade later, Guo Dong is a farmer who sees well enough to care not only for his now teen-aged daughter, but his elderly father as well.
An unbreakable friendship with Dr. Kreuger contributes to Guo Dong's encompassing happiness in life. Upon the doctor's latest sight mission to China, Guo Dong traveled 12 hours by bus to thank him once again. The two talked for hours before Guo Dong reboarded the bus for the 12-hour return trip home. The visit was brief compared to his ride, but for these two men from vastly different worlds, the gift of renewed sight has forged a bond that time can never untie.
On three separate trips to China, Doctor Krueger took 6, 8, and 12 corneas for sight-restoring transplants. Each time the crowd of candidates for surgery numbered from 35 to 40, all in serious need. The doctor had to choose based on both need and physical chance of success.
In one instance, Doctor Krueger refused a potential patient because the severity of his injury limited chances of success. The man's face fell when he learned of the doctor's decision. Then, as all hope faded, he collapsed to the floor in sobs that turned into convulsions. These are the stakes for those living in corneal blindness in nations where no eye banks exist.
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