News

The gift of sight given three times

Bill Waterer has watched his eyesight slip away, not once, not twice but three times, however thankfully cornea donations have given him back his vision three times over.

25 Jul 2021

This DonateLife Week (25 July to 1 August), St John of God Subiaco Hospital patient Bill is sharing his story to encourage others to register to become organ and tissue donors.

This DonateLife Week (25 July to 1 August), St John of God Subiaco Hospital patient Bill is sharing his story to encourage others to register to become organ and tissue donors.

“You don’t know what it is like to lose your eyesight until you have lost it, you can’t read, you can’t drive, it impacts on everything you do,” Bill said.

“Receiving the cornea transplants has given me back my life and allowed me to do what I am passionate about once again.”

After losing his vision in his right eye, Bill received his first cornea transplant in 2018 with the surgery done at St John of God Subiaco Hospital by Ophthalmologist Dr Steven Wiffen.

In April last year, he received a corneal transplant for his left eye, with that surgery being one of the last elective procedures done at St John of God Subiaco Hospital before they were temporarily postponed that month due to COVID-19.

Unfortunately, his first corneal transplant started in fail this year but he was lucky to receive a third cornea transplant with the surgery done at the same hospital in April.

Bill said getting back his vision meant he was able to continue doing what he loved, including his work with the Dr Jane Goodall Roots and Shoots program which he set up in WA, and for which he was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for service to wildlife conservation.

The program encourages young people to take action to protect animals and the environment, and Bill was at the heart of the organisation in WA.

“Losing my eyesight meant that I had to step away from this work that I loved and was passionate about,” Bill said.

Bill encouraged everyone to become an organ and tissue donor, knowing firsthand the life changing difference it can have.

“What is the good of being buried or cremated with organs or tissues that can make a world of difference to another person.”

Did you know?

  • In 2020, due to COVID-19 there was a 16 per cent decrease in the number of donors and a 12 per cent decrease in the number of people receiving a transplant compared to 2019. There was also a 16 per cent drop in registrations in 2020 compared with 2019.
  • This means it’s never been more important to encourage people to register as an organ and tissue donor, and to talk to their family about donation.

How to register:

The easiest way to register is on the DonateLife website, at donatelife.gov.au/register

You may be interested in