Mission for vision

Members of Rockingham Uniting Church have a proud outward looking tradition of supporting causes well beyond the local church.

Over the last 12 months we have risen to the challenge of no less than four special appeals. Our latest venture was in support of the Lions Eye Institute (LEI) in memory of my wife, the late Kaye Hogg for research  into blinding Inherited Retinal Diseases and Macular Degeneration. Our efforts resulted in a donation of $3 000 going to the work of Associate Professor Fred Chen at LEI.

Kaye was a loved member of our congregation who inherited Retinitis Pigmentosa which eventually took her sight. Legally blind by the age of 50, it was her long held desire to donate her eyes to medical science  upon death.

When diagnosed with a non responsive high-grade lymphoma and given 12 months to live, Kaye and I approached Associate Professor Fred Chen at LEI concerning her desire. Fred’s immediate response was, “Kaye, this is a unique opportunity to advance the research into Retinitis Pigmentosa that I am doing.”

He went on to explain that to be an organ donor, it is necessary to die in hospital, where organs and tissue can be harvested and preserved within one hour of death. When Kaye died in Hollywood Hospital in April  2015, Professor Chen came immediately and collected the eyes, and some skin. He already had her DNA.

Rockingham Uniting Church wearing their cardboard glasses.

Rockingham Uniting Church wearing their cardboard glasses.

The collaborative worldwide research Fred is doing is focused on extracting stem cells from adult skin and correcting the faulty gene. By means of genetic manipulation, stem cells are transformed into light sensitive cone cells. These cells can be harvested and injected into the retina of vision impaired people in effort to restore sight. Kaye’s legacy is at the cutting edge of exciting new technology. Stem cell research may  lead to regeneration of various body tissues and organs, giving hope to patients with various conditions.

On 28 August, Professor Fred Chen spoke to our congregation over an early luncheon which gained the generous support of our people. $3000 was presented to the LEI on Thursday 15 September.

Dr Fred Chen addresses Rockingham Uniting Church.

Dr Fred Chen addresses Rockingham Uniting Church.

Special thanks goes to the generous donation of $500 from the Rockingham Uniting Op-shop. A silent auction of handcrafted items also raised in $495.

The response mirrored similar donations for the earthquake in Nepal, the Yarloop bushfire and the Fijian cyclone appeal. There is joy in giving generously.

To learn about the Lions Eye Institute visit their website at www.lei.org.au.

Norm Hogg

Top image: Rev Norm Hogg presenting a cheque for $3 000 to Dr Fred Chen of the Lions Eye Institute.

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