The incredible gift that changed Chloe’s view of the world

As almost 2000 Australians wait for an organ, a young corneal transplant recipient shares why donation is a truly life-changing gift.

Chloe Davies quite literally knows what it’s like to see the world through someone else’s eyes.

Chloe, 31, was just nine years old when she awoke one morning to discover she was completely blind in one eye.

Although her mother initially dismissed her complaints about her sudden lost vision as a ploy to get glasses in order to look like her childhood idols Mary Kate and Ashley Olson, a doctor later diagnosed her with the eye disease keratoconus.

The disorder causes a progressive thinning of the cornea that, in extreme cases such as Chloe’s, can only be corrected with a corneal transplant.

Chloe underwent her first corneal transplant when she was just 12 years old.

Even at that young age, she understood she was only able to receive her new cornea because another child had died.

“I was very aware of the sacrifice that had come with what I was receiving,” Chloe says.

“I remember feeling very excited for this (regaining her vision), but also really sad and grateful.

“Even at 12 I had a lot of different emotions over it.”

Chloe’s transplant journey

Thirteen years after her first transplant (which didn’t completely restore her vision), Chloe had to again have her donor cornea replaced.

Unfortunately, her body quickly rejected the second donated cornea.

Since then, Chloe has undergone another extremely painful and lengthy corneal transplant, which has fully restored her sight in the damaged eye.

“So your cornea doesn’t have any blood so it’s quite a slow-healing wound,” she explains.

“And also, don’t forget the cornea also has some of the most cell endings in your body which is why it is so painful when you get even a grain of sand in your eye.

“Basically, it (the transplant) hurts.”

The gift of life

Despite all its challenges, Chloe’s transplant experience was “totally worth it” as it has given her enough vision to now be able to drive a car and to once again fully enjoy her love of reading.

“It’s the little things you wouldn’t even think about like how you see colour,” Chloe says.

“It increases your peripheral vision. So, if you walk around with one eye closed, you’re going to be walking into walls and doors all day – and that’s what it was like before the transplant.

“Now, because I do see colour and outlines of things I can walk around, and that side of my face is no longer blocked off to the world.”

How to support the DonateLife campaign

Chloe is sharing her story for DonateLife Week in the hopes of encouraging people to register as organ and tissue donors.

The campaign kicks off with a registration race aiming to get an additional 100,000 Aussies to sign up to become organ and tissue donors.

There are currently 1850 Australians on the transplant waiting list, just like Chloe, who are hoping for organ or tissue transplants.

“Having been on the other end of it I know it can make such a difference to people’s lives,” she enthuses.

“Something good can come out of a really sad situation.”

To check if you are registered and sign up as an organ and tissue donor in less than a minute, visit DonateLife.

Written by Siobhan Duck.