Donna Rae Bolda is a 71 year-old school bus driver in Posen, Illinois. She has been driving a bus for 29 years and loves her job. Then cataracts forced her off the road.
While her first eye surgery went well, two days after her second cataract surgery Donna could not see out of her left eye. She went to her eye doctor and he immediately sent her to the emergency room at the University of Illinois Hospital in Chicago. Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary physician, Dr. Yannek Leiderman, a retina specialist, saw her immediately. “His bedside manner could not have been better,” Donna reported. Dr. Leiderman told her that she had an infection inside her eye that could cause permanent loss of vision, and that she required urgent treatment – an injection of antibiotics into the eye. She was quite nervous about the injection, “but he made me feel comfortable,” she said. Dr. Leiderman sent her home with medication and would continue to treat her for the next 7 weeks.
The travel from Posen to Chicago was quite an effort but Donna’s husband of 50 years, George, drove her every week.
Donna’s sight began to improve, but not to the degree that she had hoped. She began to see a bit of color, but that was about it. She was not able to drive her route and, for fear of fatiguing her right eye, she stopped doing the other things she loved to do like sewing, crocheting and solving jigsaw puzzles. She sat in the house for a month.
After 4 weeks Dr. Leiderman told her that the infection was gone and that there was potential for her vision to improve further. He explained that he needed to perform surgery to remove debris left by the infection inside of the eye, the vitreous, and scar tissue that had formed on the retina, an epiretinal membrane.
Another surgery was a cause for concern, but Donna was ready. “As much as I love my job I got to the point where I didn’t even care if I went back to work, I only wanted to be able to see to get out of the house. I was just going crazy.”
After Dr. Leiderman performed retina surgery her vision did not return immediately, and there were weeks of anxious waiting. But her vision did return. She would be able to go back to work with 20/25 vision. When she walked out after that final visit she was in tears. An Infirmary security guard asked her if she was alright and she replied that she was crying tears of happiness.
“I thank Dr. Leiderman and everyone in this place. The whole team was amazing. I am blessed. Every day I count my blessings,” Donna stated.
More good news came when Donna returned to work. She got her old school route back and was able to keep the same kids. They said that they had missed her and she got lots of hugs from the kids and her co-workers. It was a beautiful reunion. Donna has also started to crochet baby blankets again.