Master Corporal Damian Vice has had a successful law enforcement career with the Police Department of Wilmington, Delaware. Of the different jobs he has taken on through the years, certainly the task of visiting problem schools and talking to students about making the right decisions has been one of the more rewarding. When students suggest that they are a product of their environments, he responds by sharing that he too did not have everything a kid is typically entitled to when growing up.
Making the right choices in life was instilled in a young Damian by his aunt (whom he affectionately calls “Mom”), who raised him with her children. It was her continued love and support that helped him recover, at age 10, from the unexpected death of his father, which affected Damian greatly and caused him to miss a lot of school. When he returned to school, he poured his aching heart into sports. He loved the competition and camaraderie. He became the first African American captain of the high school football team and was selected “all conference” and “all state” in both football and wrestling. His grades were very good, and he was becoming an all-around outstanding student athlete. It was then that his health began to change.
Damian’s visions problems surfaced during a routine driver’s education vision examination. He was referred to an eye doctor who happened to be president of a local Lions Club. Damian was diagnosed with bilateral keratoconus, an eye disease characterized by irregularly shaped corneas. In Damian’s case, both eyes were affected. The Lions Club came to his aid.
“Lions Club support provided funds for my eye exams. They also ensured I had the proper glasses and sports goggles. If it wasn’t for the Lions Club, the costs would have been a hardship for my family,” explained Damian.
With his vision problems seemingly addressed, Damian attended college in Virginia and then served in the military for 12 years before joining the Wilmington Police Department nearly 20 years ago. As an officer, he alternated between gas permeable contact lenses and prescription eye glasses. After a while, however, he noticed his vision was further deteriorating. Damian soon realized his vision problems were making things unsafe for him and for the people he was sworn to protect. His physician referred him to a cornea transplant surgeon.
After learning the risks and benefits of the surgery, Damian was still concerned. “It was a big, scary decision because I was the breadwinner for my family. We had a mortgage and we had children. What if the surgery did not work and I lost my vision?”
It was his wife, Angela, who was his voice of reason. “Angela simply pointed out to me that if I did nothing I might have lost my sight,” recalled Damian. Convinced, Damian underwent his first cornea transplant 2001 and was thrilled by the positive results. A second transplant in 2002 made Damian even more pleased, so much so that he took the eye bank’s suggestion and began anonymously corresponding with his donor’s mother.
“I am so grateful for my donor and his mom’s decision to create this miracle for me and my family. It is because of their selfless decision that I am able to accomplish things in life with greater ease," said Damian.
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