Florida Lions Eye Bank




Meet some people who have given others the beauty of sight

Desmond Devon Jimeson Sr.


Des, as he was known to his family, friends, and loved ones, grew up in Hialeah Florida. He was the youngest of his mother’s four children, two boys and two girls. His next oldest sibling, a sister, was Des’s twin.


Anyone who knew Desmond knew how much his family meant to him: throughout his life, Desmond was a dedicated son, sibling, father, uncle, cousin and friend. His family was close knit and unconditionally loving. As an adult, Des was blessed with four amazing, beautiful, smart, talented kids of his own: three girls and one boy, whom Des cherished, adored, and loved dearly.


Desmond was truly one in a million, with a heart of gold. Everyone who knew him adored his friendly, inspiring, outspoken personality. At any gathering of family and friends, Desmond was certain to make sure that everyone ate! Desmond’s famous dish was hot dogs and baked beans. He was also the family clown: no family gathering was complete until Desmond got a laugh out of everyone.


Tall and athletic, Des was a sports enthusiast. Besides his family, basketball was Desmond’s other passion. As a teen, Desmond was one of the star players on his high school basketball team. When he wasn’t spending time with his kids, Des was on the court “shooting some hoops.” He excelled at ladder ball, and always made sure he got a game going during family gatherings. In his free time, Desmond also enjoyed coaching little league optimist football games.


Desmond’s Christian faith was a big part of his life. His family remembers his belief in God and his acceptance of Jesus as his lord and savior. Desmond considered himself a child of God, who lived according to his beliefs.


Des passed away suddenly, at the young age of 35. Upon his death, his loving family made the decision to donate his corneas to Florida Lions Eye Bank. Thanks to Desmond’s generous gift, and the selflessness of his family, another man in Florida has regained his eyesight.


Twenty-four members of Desmond’s adoring family showed up to celebrate the Beauty of Sight at Florida Lions Eye Bank’s annual donor family memorial event in 2016. His was the biggest family in attendance: clearly, Des is dearly loved and deeply missed. His legacy lives on through cornea donation.



Nicholas Paquette


In 2014, 23 year old Nicholas Paquette was a student at Florida Atlantic University who also worked part-time at a dermatologist's office. “Nick,” as his loved ones called him, was known as a loyal friend with a witty sense of humor. He had a passion for cars and martial arts, and had earned a second-degree black belt in karate. At the local dojo, where he helped train new students, he was known as "Sensei Nick.”


Three weeks after his 23rd birthday, Nicholas Paquette was hit by a car while crossing an intersection near his home. Although he was rushed to the hospital, Nick died two days later from his injuries.


At the time of Nick’s accident, his mother, Lori, did not know that he had registered as an eye, organ, and tissue donor several years earlier when he received his driver’s license. Yet, his family knew that Nick was a giving person who always helped others, and it gave them some comfort to know his wishes to be a donor.


Nick’s decision to register as a donor meant that he was able to save and enhance the lives of seventy people through eye, organ, and musculoskeletal tissue donation. Sixty four bone, tissue, and cartilage grafts have been transplanted into patients, restoring mobility and vastly improving quality of life. Nick’s heart, liver, and kidneys saved the lives of four fortunate people who, at last word, were feeling well and looking forward to their renewed futures. Finally, Nicholas Paquette’s choice to become a cornea donor through Florida Lions Eye Bank restored the beauty of sight to two individuals, who are enjoying life with clear vision for years to come.


Despite the tragedy of Nick’s death, his decision to become a donor has been a source of comfort, encouragement, and pride for his family. Nicholas Paquette’s generosity has made a powerful impact upon the lives of so many people, and his loved ones know that Nick would be happy to have made such an enormous difference in the world. Florida Lions Eye Bank is grateful to be a part of Nicholas Paquette’s legacy to restore the beauty of sight.


Ashley Nicole Valdes


Eleven year old Ashley Nicole Valdes was a bright, responsible girl who loved singing, dancing, and spending time with her family. Despite her young age, Ashley was caring beyond her years. Her mother Adonay remembers Ashley as a tireless helper, caring for her handicapped younger sister while Adonay studied to be a paramedic. “She was always caring for her and helping her,” Adonay recalls of Ashley’s relationship with ten year old Amanda, who was born with developmental disabilities. “Rather than being ashamed of her, she was proud of her— showing her to her friends and insisting that she be included.”


Tragedy struck on a quiet Thursday evening in 2009. A school bus dropped Ashley off near her home after she attended an after-school program. While crossing a street near her home, Ashley was hit by a pickup truck. Tragically, the driver of the vehicle did not stop to offer aid. Ashley was rushed by helicopter to Nicklaus Children's Hospital, but doctors were unable to save her life.


In the space of a single day, Adonay lost her eldest child and best friend. Amanda lost her beloved sister and caretaker. Ashley’s stepfather Pablo, who embraced the girl and raised her as his own, was bereft. Not only did the family experience a terrible loss, but they were left with unanswered questions. Who was the driver of the hit and run vehicle? Why hadn’t he stopped and tried to save Ashley?


It took eight days of desperate public pleas before police identified the hit and run driver. During that difficult time, Adonay made the decision to donate Ashley’s corneas to Florida Lions Eye Bank, so others might benefit from this terrible tragedy. “It was a difficult decision, but I am so happy that I did it,” Adonay reflects. “Ashley was a very giving person and that is exactly what she would have wanted. It gives me peace and strength knowing that part of my baby lives on in someone else.”


Ashley Nicole Valdes has left a powerful legacy. Besides restoring eyesight to two people, Ashley’s story caught the attention of Miami-Dade County Commissioner, who took a leading role in addressing traffic problems at the intersection where Ashley lost her life. On the day of what would have been Ashley’s twelfth birthday, a four-block section of SW 80th Street was renamed in Ashley’s honor. Finally, in 2013, the driver who cut Ashley’s brilliant life short was sentenced for his crime.


Advocacy for eye donation could be the most meaningful part of Ashley’s legacy. Adonay has spoken out about the importance of eye, organ, and tissue donation, and leads a support group for Hispanic parents who have lost a child. “In the Latin culture. there is a lack of awareness about the importance of organ donation,” Adonay states. “They believe the body should stay intact. But I tell them of the joy they will feel in knowing that a part of your son or daughter not only lives on, but is giving life to another, making another’s life better.”



If you wish to tell your story please send us correspondence to our offices as shown in the Contact Us page or send an email to efcaraza@med.miami.edu. We will not distribute or publish your story without your consent.

Writing to the Recipient of Your Loved One’s Cornea: Helpful Guidelines

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