Craig woman helps people around the globe to see | CraigDailyPress.com

Craig woman helps people around the globe to see

Helping create a legacy of sight is a Lions' Club tradition Beka Warren

— For a quarter-century, one Craig woman has played a vital role in helping people across the world to see.

Beka Warren is a calm, quiet woman whose eyes glitter with a keen intellect. An article published on July 18, 2011 in the Craig Daily Press described Warren's thirst for knowledge and impressive educational accomplishments.

She is a nurse, vice president of quality for Memorial Regional Health and deputy coroner of Moffat County, but it is in her role as technician for the Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Bank where she has created a legacy of sight.

"I'm the person who recovers the eye tissue… the corneas and sometimes the whole globe, which is the entire eye," Warren said.

Medical science has advanced through the years, but one thing doctors can't do is create eye tissue in a lab, she said.

Each year 600 to 800 hundred people receive corneas from the Colorado-based eye bank, said Robert Austin, eye bank public and professional relations manager.

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Colorado's Lions Clubs chartered the eye bank in 1982.

Then clubs raised $6 million to build the Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Institute — The University of Colorado's Department of Ophthalmology — where the eye bank is located on the Anschutz Medical Campus in Denver.

Warren is the only person trained to recover eye tissues in Northwest Colorado and gained her qualification in 1992, about the same time she joined the Craig Lions Club.

"I carry a bag with my equipment, the club paid for that," she said when explaining how the Lions continue to help her when she needs to travel to Rio Blanco, Routt and Garfield counties to recover tissue.

There are waiting lists for other organ and tissue donations in Colorado, but there isn't one for people who need eye tissue transplants. This allows the eye bank to serve others across the United States and the world.

"We placed corneas in just about ever continent except Antarctica," Austin said "The donor family always gets to know the outcome."

Helping other people live better lives is the motivation that drives Warren’s work. It's not always an easy job. Unlike recipients and transplant teams she occasionally has to recover tissue from people that she knew in the community.

"When someone dies there is not a lot that can be done," Warren said. "But if tissues are donated, there is no greater gift."

To learn more about organ and tissue donation visit: dmv.org/co-colorado/organ-donor.php

To learn more about the Rocky Mountain Eye Bank visit: http://www.corneas.org

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com or follow her on Twitter @CDP_Education.

Leaving a legacy

About 69 percent of Coloradans are registered organ or tissue donors.

Registration is managed through the Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles.

Anyone can sign up, and donors have a heart on their driver’s licenses.

Those who register should tell family and friends of their wishes so as not to create additional stress on loved ones at the time of death.

At the time of death medical professionals evaluate a donors eligibility to donate all or some organs and tissues.

To learn more or be added to the registry visit dmv.org/co-colorado/organ-donor.php

Source: Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Bank