Man who's seen the world can see once again

Man who's seen the world can see once again
Gift of Sight

When Allen Tiesman enlisted in the Air Force in 1961, he wanted to get as far away from his hometown of Fulton, Illinois, as possible.

“I wanted to see as much of the world as I could,” Tiesman says.

He completed basic training in San Antonio, Texas, before going to school in Amarillo, Texas, to learn about supply management. From there, he went to Cannon Air Force Base near Clovis, NM, and served in California, Hawaii, Wake Island, the Philippines, Thailand, and Italy.

“I saw a lot of countries,” Tiesman says. “Wake Island was very interesting because it was where the Japanese had bombed the Americans during World War II, and there were still a lot of entrenched machine guns and a plane that had been shot down. It was very interesting for a young 18-year-old.”

Tiesman married his wife in February 1964, then left the service two months after the Vietnam War began. Although he had started his military career wanting to be anywhere but Fulton, Illinois, he returned to his hometown, and still lives there today.

Over the years he worked for Allied Steel, helping to fabricate steel for projects including bridges and the John Hancock tower in Chicago. He also worked for Dries Inc making chain and augur mounting for the farming industry before retiring in 2009.

Tiesman had seen so much of the world, but there was a risk he wouldn’t be able to see anything more. He says his vision became fuzzy and it was hard to read, even when wearing his glasses.

“Car lights would explode in front of your eyes like a starburst,” he says.

Tiesman learned he had Fuchs Dystrophy and would need corneal transplants. He was referred to Dr. Christopher Sales at University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics, who also is the assistant medical director at Iowa Lions Eye Bank. In July 2023, he had a cornea transplant on his right eye.

 “I was very happy with the surgery and Dr. Sales especially,” Tiesman says. “It’s like God decided he was going to repaint the world, and everything looks so sharp. It just amazes me.”

Next February, Tiesman and his wife will celebrate their 60th anniversary, and he is looking forward to celebrating with his family. In a letter to his donor’s family, he wrote, “…thanks to your loved one, I will be able to visit and see them. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.”