Councilwoman recounts mother’s cornea donation

Published 7:53 pm Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Tuesday evening during Bainbridge’s City Council meeting, Mayor Edward Reynolds read a proclamation declaring April as Donate Life Month.

Lifelink of Georgia spokeswoman, June Faircloth was there to accept the proclamation, but also call attention to the need by having one of the City’s own constituents tell their story.

Councilwoman Roslyn Palmer was just in junior high when her mother, Bella Wolffe, underwent cataract surgery. The surgery was unsuccessful and Wolffe lost her vision in one eye. As time passed on, medical advances were made and Wolffe found out she could undergo a cornea transplant.

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“All of that is really common now, but in 1962/1963 it wasn’t,” Palmer said. “Her doctor sent her to Massachusetts, where she stayed for three months after the surgery and in a nursing home for a month.”

Palmer explained at that time there were no long-term care places for her mother to go. Unfortunately during her stay, Wolffe learned the transplant was unsuccessful.

Doctors contacted Wolffe a couple of years later saying they would like another opportunity to correct her vision and had another cornea available.

Wolffe traveled back to Boston, where she underwent the same operation. The operation was once again unsuccessful.

Wolffe and her husband did not give up. According to Palmer, both of her parents wore buttons that said, “Eyes given, how about you?” and went across the state of Georgia promoting the donation of eyes and the importance of it.

“At the time the only thing you could donate was your eyes, so that’s why I’m such a believer,” Palmer said.

Although Wolffe’s surgery was unsuccessful, Palmer believes that given the chance today, it would be a quick outpatient surgery and her mother would be seeing again in no time.

“It gives people another chance,” Palmer said.

She encourages others to consider donating and thanked Faircloth for her commitment to the organization.