“I had lots of art supplies as a teenager. I still have an oil painting I painted in my teen years on a piece of scrap plywood from a construction site,” Charlie recalls.
When glaucoma and an autoimmune disorder caused severe, painful blisters in his right eye, Charlie was in danger of losing his eyesight. It’s a devastating loss for anyone, especially an artist.
Dr. Priscilla Fowler, UAB ophthalmologist and Advancing Sight Network board member, told Charlie he would need a corneal transplant to relieve the pain and restore his eyesight. “I watched Charlie lose time and productivity as an artist as his corneal condition worsened,” said Dr. Fowler. “It became clear that surgical intervention was our only option.”
“I did not have any concerns about the surgery because the blisters in my eye were so terribly painful,” Charlie remembers. “I have full confidence in Dr. Fowler and the Callahan Eye Hospital staff.”
Using donated corneal tissue, Dr. Fowler was able to perform a successful surgery. “Through the gift of a cornea donor, Charlie was able to receive a cornea transplant that restored his sight, and he is as productive as ever as an artist. His journey truly highlights the great impact that cornea transplantation and the restoration of sight can have on a person’s life,” she says.
Following his transplant, Charlie created brand new paintings for an exhibit at Walter Anderson Museum of Art in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. He describes it as the highpoint of his painting career.
“I was honored and humbled by the invitation to produce this show, and I worked for ten months creating never before seen paintings designed specifically for this gallery,” Charlie says. “It was a wonderful experience since I had great vision, seeing clearly, to produce the work.”
At the age of seventy, Charlie has no intention of slowing down anytime soon, and he continues to create beautiful art. The experience did prompt Charlie to register as an organ, eye, and tissue donor, something he had not done before his transplant.
To the families who donated their loved ones’ corneas, Charlie offers his humble thanks. “I received it as an important gift, and I would encourage everyone to consider becoming a donor,” he says.
Charlie’s work is available at Brown’s Fine Art and Framing in Jackson, Mississippi.
Make a difference today by registering to be an organ, eye, and tissue donor. Use the Health app on your iPhone, register here, or sign up when you renew your drivers license.
Partner with us to restore eyesight to as many people as possible by making a financial gift to Advancing Sight Network. Give online or mail your gift to Advancing Sight Network, Development Office, 500 Robert Jemison Road, Birmingham,