Danny Rivers’ life has been rooted in his faith. He grew up in a church he loved and continued to pursue his own spiritual journey throughout his life. His faith was tested, however, in 1994 when Danny was diagnosed with keratoconus during a routine eye doctor visit. He was only 18.
Keratoconus is an eye disease that causes the fibers in the cornea – the front part of the eye – to weaken. This prevents the cornea from being able to maintain its shape, resulting in a cone-shaped bulge in the front of the eye. This change makes vision worsen rapidly.
Danny’s doctor, Dr. Robert Phillips, gave the then-teenager a recommendation that shook him – Danny needed corneal transplant surgery, and he needed it as soon as possible. Danny found himself praying on an operating table only one week later.
The surgery, performed on one eye, went flawlessly. He remembers temporary, minor inconveniences such as sensitivity to light and loose sutures, but they were well worth the near 20/20 vision he obtained only a few weeks after surgery. So worth it, in fact, that he had surgery on his second eye only a few years later. Danny thanked God for the tremendous change in his life. He no longer had to worry about going blind from keratoconus.
But the story doesn’t end there. By an act that Danny says can only be Divine intervention, Danny was offered a way to give back in a more meaningful way than he could have imagined. In 2003, his father-in-law of only one year was facing polycystic kidney disease – the same disease that had killed his father when he was only a boy. He needed a transplant and was put on a transplant list with a 5-year waiting period. Danny made the courageous and selfless decision to be tested for compatibility with his father-in-law in March of 2003. Danny was a perfect match and underwent surgery just three months later. The surgery was a great success.
Danny says that his decision to donate his kidney was an easy one. His vision had been saved by two donors, and he felt that it was his calling to give back through organ donation. Today, Danny remains on the donor list and plans to be a donor. He also encourages others to become donors. In Danny’s words, “You never lose in life when you make the choice to give.”