The gift of sight
At least six people benefited from Shane Jividen's organs, his mother said. His liver, both kidneys, both corneas and a heart valve were donated. He had pneumonia, though, so his lungs were not suitable.
Nancy Jividen and John Shuman didn't know each other well. She works in the Walmart store office and he's on the sales floor.
They aren't extremely close now either, she said, but Shuman stops to speak with her now frequently now when he goes by the office.
"[It's good] just knowing that a part of Shane is still alive," she said. "Just knowing that Shane helped him see."
Shuman is a retired paramedic and chaplain from the Kanawha County Emergency Ambulance Authority. The Cross Lanes resident also served as a firefighter from the Tyler Mountain VFD before a back injury forced him to retire.
He and Shane Jividen attended training together. "I didn't know Shane really well, but I did know him through fire school," Shuman said.
Shuman has a condition called keratoconus, a progressive steepening and thinning of the cornea, said his surgeon, Dr. Heather Skeens of West Virginia Eye Consultants. The cornea becomes warped, and the light that enters the eye is scattered, so that there isn't a clear, focused image that going into the eye. That causes distorted or impaired vision.
"At [John's] level, the cornea transplant is the only thing that would have helped him," Skeens said. "There are other ways to treat keratoconus, but not at the level that he was."
Shuman's other eye wasn't as bad; he needed only a contact lens to correct it.
Skeens performs cornea transplant surgeries weekly, she said, but Shuman's was the first time she'd ever had a patient who knew his donor.
"I got chill bumps," Skeens said. "That's never happened to me before. ... People don't think [corneas] are as significant as a liver or kidney, but [with] cornea transplants, I always think, there has to be a donor."
Skeen said Shuman's story is a perfect example of the importance of organ donation.
"He can have 20/20 vision again," she said.
Since the surgery, Shuman's vision has improved and continues to do so, he said.
Nationally, 120,000 people are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant. Of those, 800 West Virginians are waiting. Enos said people should educate themselves about organ donation.
The need for donated organs is a health-care crisis, she said. It's not true that a medical team will let you die if they know you're an organ donor, she said. And through organ donation, the family of the dying person gets the peace of knowing their loved one's loss helped people live.
"Nancy's son is a hero," Enos said. "He saved lives."
As for Shuman, the 52-year-old is just happy for his vision, and for Shane Jividen's gift.
"I'm an older guy, but I have a young eye," he said. "I'm thankful to get to see."
Reach Lori Kersey at lori.ker...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1240.