photo of SightLife global partner cornea recipient Sukhadev


Global partner cornea recipient

Sukhadev, 23, raced up the stairs two at a time as he led photographer Toni Cervantes on a tour of his neighborhood in Hyderabad, India. When he stopped to talk, his hands moved like a symphony conductor's in concert to his animated words.

Toni could barely believe that, not long ago, this young man with the perfect smile had been so depressed that he shut himself away from the world.

It happened little by little as a disease called kerataconus took away his sight. As the disease progressed, Sukhadev lost his ability to drive or even ride a bike. He could't play sports anymore. Sensitivity to light limited the amount of time he could spend with his friends. He could no longer see faces and could only recognize people by their voices.

Finally, the worst happened. Sukhadev was a college student studying to be a company secretary, an important and prestigious position in India. He loved numbers, but as his ability to study slipped away, so did his confidence. He became so listless that he stopped even being able to express himself. He hid in his room, listening to old sentimental Indian songs to help him through.

The corneal transplant tissue that restored Sukhadev's sight and helped pull him from his room came from SightLife partner Rammayama International Eye Bank in Hyderabad. The surgery was performed at LV Prasad, another SightLife partner. Sukhadev's return to hope began as he came out of surgery. He cried for joy as he realized that he could already see better while lying on the surgery table.

When he saw his mother's face for the first time, he thanked God for having his life back. Now he loves to see newly constructed buildings. He particularly loved observing the progress of a 32-story apartment building near his home. He also loves going on long drives as a passenger in the car so he can see the world as it races by.

This exceptional and buoyant young man now urges others who find themselves in his former predicament to always keep hope — and also to register as eye donors.