By Alex Strauss MED Magazine
There are few more passionate and outspoken fans of Dakota Lions Sight & Health than Alan Berdahl. Not only has Berdahl served as the organization’s Community Outreach Coordinator since 2013, but he is also the father of DLSH medical director John Berdahl, MD, and the recipient of donor corneas that saved his sight.
A sufferer of Fuch’s Dystrophy, Berdahl received new corneal tissue in a surgery his son performed in 2014. The former band director joined the eye bank in 2010 as a distribution specialist. When it became clear that his gregarious personality was wasted in the lab, he started speaking to community groups instead.
“The goal is always to increase number of donors,” says Berdahl. “I realized that one of the key groups we needed to be talking to were people in driver’s ed because they are going to be asked about being organ donors when they apply for their license,”
In 2014, Berdahl developed and launched the first and only eye and tissue donation education program geared specifically for driver’s ed students.
“It’s a no-brainer but no one has ever done it,” says Berdahl. “In Minnesota, they have to spend some time talking about organ donation. But you can’t ask questions of a video. Kids ask me questions all the time.”
Berdalh’s hour-and-a-half presentation, titled “A Legacy of Life”, includes donation facts, pictures, videos, real talk about his own experience as a recipient, stories of young donors, take-home materials, and plenty of time for Q & A.
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