Gifted Student Gives Gift of Sight

Gifted Student Gives Gift of Sight
Every Life Has a Story

Amanda Wilken was a vibrant, driven, and brilliant student with a great sense of humor and lots of friends. Amanda grew up and attended school in Norwalk, Iowa, and graduated with honors in 2013. After high school, Amanda attended Drake University as a pre-pharmacy major and was accepted into the Drake Pharmacy/MBA program to pursue her long-held ambition to become a pharmacist. A gifted academic, she was on track to graduate with her doctorate in May of 2019.

Despite her heavy class load, Amanda was involved in several co-curricular activities. She was a member of the Alpha Phi sorority, the National Association of Women MBA’s, and the American Public Health Association. Amanda was also a 2016 graduate of the Adams Leadership Academy and was committed to be a model servant leader.

Amanda loved spending time with her family and made sure that everyone knew that she was her grandma and grandpa’s favorite grandchild! Pets were considered family to Amanda and she loved her orange tabby cat named Cheddar and her pride and joy was her chocolate lab, Riggins.

After graduation, Amanda aspired to work as a pharmacist, dispensing medications to mental health patients at the VA Hospital in Des Moines. Amanda had always wanted to help others and she had a strong passion to help the veterans who have served to protect the nation’s rights and freedoms.

Sadly, Amanda was unable to realize her post-graduation goals.  On October 11, 2018, Amanda’s life was taken too soon, at the young age of 23, in a tragic traffic accident.  Amanda’s kindness and generosity continued even after her untimely death, as a tissue and cornea donor.

Amanda’s mom, Jeanine Flies, said that she had no idea that her daughter was a registered donor until she received a phone call from Iowa Donor Network to discuss her final wishes. Jeanine shared that she was unable to put into words the amount of love that she feels for Amanda’s selfless choice to become a donor.  Amanda was able to help dozens of people with her gifts of donation, including restoring sight to two recipients through her donated corneas.


In a letter to one of her daughter’s cornea recipients, Jeanine wrote, “As I have tried to understand the tragic loss of my only child, I find moments of peace knowing the blessings she left for others by being a donor. As you look at the world every day, please remember the beautiful blue-eyed girl who cared about others her entire life and after. Amanda loved fresh flowers. See the beauty every day and take time to stop and smell the flowers.”

Iowa Lions Eye Bank is honored to have played a role in fulfilling Amanda’s final wish to be a donor. Her legacy of kindness and generosity will continue through the recipients of her gifts of donation and her friends’ and family’s lifelong memories of her.