Gary Langenwalter is a business consultant and an adjunct professor, a husband and father, a grandfather and a volunteer – an all-around active fellow with a very busy life. Over the years, as he noticed a deterioration in his eyesight – especially night time driving – he attributed it to the natural aging process, or perhaps cataracts as some of his other family members had experienced. But at a routine appointment with his eye doctor, Gary learned it was worse than he had thought.
At Devers Eye Institute, Dr. Mark Terry and his team ran a series of tests. Those test results combined with a frightening experience of almost hitting a couple of pedestrians while he was driving on a rainy Oregon night helped Gary to realize the severity of his situation. Using corneas procured by Lions VisionGift, Gary had his first cornea transplanted in January 2018 and is planning his second for July 2018 – when his students are between school terms and will not miss him.
As Gary talks about his donors, his voice breaks, and his eyes fill with tears. “It means so much to me and to my wife and to our two sons and to their kids… It’s a gift that cannot be repaid. [My donors] gave me the gift of sight and of not being in pain. They gave me the gift of life, because without sight, it’s really hard to function in this world.”
Gary wants people who are considering whether they should register as a donor to know two things: “Through this gift, you will live on. And we’re all in this together; this is how we can help each other.”