More good news to share! Paul went to the neuro-ophthalmologist yesterday. We thought she was just going to do a pressure check for his glaucoma. She actually did a full exam; I think she's as excited as we are to see the results. And the results were that he was able to read one more line on the eye chart. That makes two additional lines in the seven weeks since he had the procedure!
We had an exciting, excellent appointment with Paul's neuro-ophthalmologist this afternoon. He was able to read one more line on the chart than he could before! She did an ultrasound of his eye, and the optic nerve has changed to a much healthier shape. Both the retina and optic nerve are pinker and healthier looking. All this in just a little over three weeks since the procedure!
Thanks to everyone for the prayers and the good thoughts. Please keep them coming. Your support means so much.
Paul and I are so amazed by all your support...the donations, the prayers, the good thoughts sent our way. We are now at the harder part of the process-waiting and hoping for results. Paul's first follow up with his neuro-ophtalmogist is on April 24th. We are both eager to find out what changes she will find. Please continue to keep Paul in your thoughts and prayers.
First, Thank you all again for your thoughts and good wishes. They are so very much appreciated. We are back home today from Florida and my having the Stem Cell procedure. I had an appointment with Dr. Weiss on Monday and was formally cleared for the procedure. Up early Tuesday morning and off to the Surgical Center and was prepped for the 8:30 start time. All went very well and I managed not to be too nervous. The procedure took about an hour and I woke up with no side effects from the anesthesia. A little snack and I was released about 12:30. The surgical center facility was very good and the nurses and staff were very attentive and conscientious. The Doctor and his techs were also excellent. I had only moderate eye discomfort the day of surgery, and some itching and minor soreness after that. Most of that has cleared.
Now the waiting to see the results which could take up to six months.
Paul is going to be featured in a story in the Columbus Dispatch. They are doing a story about him and the two local women who have already had the procedure, both with very good results so far. Evidently he will be in the online version because they are coming out to shoot video of him and Avanti going for a walk. I'll post again when the article is published.
We are all set for the trip to Florida. We will fly down on March 30th. On Monday, Paul will go in and meet the doctors. All his pre-op exams have been done by his doctors here in Columbus, and they say he is good to go. The procedure will take place on Tuesday. Paul will have checkups with the doctors on Wednesday and Friday. We'll come home on Saturday. His further follow-up care will be done by his local doctors.
Because this process involves growing new stem cells, it takes time. We will keep you posted periodically as Paul's notices the changes.
We have been overwhelmed by the support we have received. We can't even begin to express how thankful we are to everyone who has stopped by to read Paul's story, to send good wishes, and to donate. We are very lucky people!
My husband, Paul Walker has been visually impaired his entire life. He was born with cataracts. From the ages of about one to five, he had multiple eye surgeries to break up the cataracts.
When Paul was about thirteen, he lost all vision in what had been his "good" eye over the space of just a week or two. Many years later, we discovered that the vision loss was caused by a genetic condition known by Leber's Hereditary Optic Neuropathy. In Leber's, vision loss results from the death of cells in the nerve that relays visual information from the eyes to the brain (the optic nerve.) Shortly after that, the retina in his right eye detached, and has been chronically detached since then, leaving him without even light perception in that eye.
When Paul was in his 20's, he developed glaucoma in his left eye, resulting in gradually losing a great deal of the vision in that eye.
Through all of that, there have been good developments. One was becoming associated with Guide Dogs for the Blind. Paul was matched with his first Guide Dog, Hero, in September 2002. Hero helped Paul to regain the independence that he had gradually given up over the years. Paul is pictured with his second Guide Dog, Avanti. They have been a team for the last four years. Paul feels very fortunate to be associated with Guide Dogs and to have had these two wonderful dogs as part of his life.
Another happy development is the opportunity to take part in a clinical study, Stem Cell Ophtalmology Treatment Study (SCOTS). The study is registered with the National Institutes Of Health and the National Eye Institute. The study uses stem cells from the patient's own bone marrow. The stem cells are extracted and injected around and into the eye itself. Successful clinical studies of the procedure have already been conducted in Austria and India with patients' vision improving as much as four lines on the eye chart. Paul was referred to the study by his neuro-ophtalmologist. She has two patients who have already participated in the study and have had noticeable improvements in their vision.
The study charges a fee of $19,600 to participate, none of which is covered by insurance. Paul and I are funding the majority of the fee ourselves from our retirement savings. Because the study is being conducted in Fort Lauderdale, we will also be incurring travel and lodging expenses for a week while visiting the clinic. Covering those expenses as well as a portion of the fee is our goal for this fund.
Throughout his life, Paul has said that he hoped he lived long enough for medical science to be able to make a difference in his condition. With this study, we feel that the time is now!
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