Help Lezli See (Eye Surgery)
Update: The campaign total has been raised officially to $9500 so that once GoFundMe fees are taken out of the donation amount we still hit our minimum target of $8000. Of the $8125 Lezli received in donations so far, $7433.12 was the total that was transferred to her bank!
Many of you know Lesley Robyn Glover (and I would like to introduce you to her if you don't). She writes sf/fantasy as Lezli Robyn and works as my Assistant Publisher for Arc Manor. (She can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/lezlirobynglover!)
What many of you who already know her may not realize is that due to a rare eye disorder, which is progressively getting worse, she is now considered legally blind without correction.
When Lezli was 23 she was diagnosed with an unusual condition, Keratoconus, which is characterised by a progressive conical protusion of the cornea that results in her eyesight being distorted to the point where she sees multiple images on top of each other, as well as distortions, ghosting and halos.
(Diagram: Click here for extensive information about the condition on the National Keratoconus Foundation's website, and why Lezli sees this way.)
As her condition has progressed, her cornea has decreased in thickness and the cone like shapes on her eyes have become more pronounced. Her eyesight has deteriorated over the years to the point that she often can't recognise people until they are within a yard's distance of her.
Since this is a progressive disease, her condition continues to get worse every year. But there is a new treatment to halt this progression, and maybe even reverse some of it.
(Photo: If you look at her eyes, you can see the cone shape of her corneas.)
Since coming to work for me, I have seen how much more difficult it is becoming for her to cope with her work as well as every-day activities as she deals with the lack of depth perception and significant distortions to the sights we take for granted.
On her return to Australia to see family, Lezli was able to get a full eye exam where they took topographical maps of her eyes (her bulges are off center, adding to the distortions she sees), and they did multiple focus and measurement tests of vaious factors in her eyes to determine she is now legally blind without any form of correction.
And that is where you kind folk come in. It used to be that the only true effective treatment for Keratoconus was to get transplants, which is both risky and extremely expensive. However, in the last five years a new treatment has become available called cross-linking. Now, I confess to not knowing much about it when she first sent me the update, but I have since looked it up and I can see why she was so excited about it.
(Click the link here for comprehensive and detailed explanation of the surgical procedure, by William Trattler, MD, a board-certified ophthalmologist specializing in refractive, corneal and cataract eye surgery.)
Since I pay Lezli Robyn I know what she earns--and it is not enough to be able to easily afford to pay for the treatment without which her eyeseight will continue to get worse. I am also aware of financial and medical difficulties her parents are undergoing and it is almost impossible for them to fund the treatment.
Currently a minimum of $2500 for each eye is required just for the basic procedure (not including specialist tests. medications, etc.) in Australia and it's not covered by Lezli's Australian medicare (see Optometry Australia's article about it here ). The cost in the US, of course, can be significantly greater (up to $4000 per eye!) so it may actually be cheaper for her to fly to Australia to get the procudure rather than have it done in the US.
So I am asking our friends to join me in raising money for Lezli to be able to get this procedure done as soon as possible--before her eyesight gets worse. Keratoconus does eventually slow down in its progression but there is no specific timeframe, and in Lezli's case the progession has consistantly continued unabated.
The procedure (more detail below) has an almost perfect record of halting this progression and it may even improve her eyesight! (In a minority of cases, the procedure not only halts the progression but it often improves the vision.)
Moreover, after the condition is halted, her cornea's will also stop changing shape so regularly, so she would be able to get contacts or glasses to help her see better--her current degenerating condition does not allow any prescription glasses/lenses.
At the moment Lezli believes $8000 should cover most, of it, and I thank you for any amount you can donate--even if it is only $5!
A litte more about cross-linking: "Collagen cross-linking is a quite recent medical procedure that employs the use of ultra-violet light and drops to help slow or completely half the condition. Under topic anaesthesia, the top layer of the cornea is loosened and the riboflavin drops (vitamin B2) are dripped into it for 30 minutes. This light causes the riboflavin to fluoresce, which as the effect of strengthening the bonds between the collagen molecules--stiffening the collagen fibers, ultimately strengthening the cornea."
While it isn't a cure for Lezli's condition, it does halt further progression of the condition, and has been shown to strengthen the cornea by around 300%.
"The results over a period of 3 and 5 years of a Dresden clinical study have indicated that in the case of 60 eyes researched, the progression of Keratoconus had been stopped in all cases. In 31 of the eyes there was a reversal and flattening of the cornea and visual accuity was improved. Similar success was found in a later study in which 281 eyes were observed for up to 6 years following the procedure. Only 2 of the patients showed signs of any further progression of the disorder, and they both responded successfully to re-treatment."
Lezli has confirmed that she will be getting her surgery done in Australia, where the treatment cost is both cheaper and a fixed amount (so no nasty "extra costs" bills will arrive in the mail afterwards) and she is currently narrowing down between two surgeons and whether both eyes will be done at the same time (which would possiibly mean she would not have much sight for awhile, at least until the gauze contacts are removed afterwards). It might be safter to do them a few weeks apart, which would require Lezli to stay in Australia for two full months while she goes through the recovery stages and appointments.
Either way, because of your wonderful donations, an amazing $7433.12 was what she received out of the $8125 in donations made to this GoFundMe account.
However, that does mean we did not hit the minimum $8000 required to cover the entire costs of surgery on each eye, and travel and glasses, so we have decided to revise the total to see if we can cover ALL her expenses. Thank you again for your help! You guys have been amazing. :-)
Thank you all for your generosity. We have now reached the intended goal of $8,000 and are in the process of withdrawing the funds (which will go directly to an account of Lezli's where she is setting aside the money for the procedure).
Any excess of funds after expenses related to this procedure will be donated to the charity she had indicated (Fred Hollows Foundation - which provides free eye care to restore eye site to the needy in poorer countries).
It does appear that it will be significantly cheaper for her to have the procedure done in Australia, even with airfare, than here in the US. There are also certain added advantages, particularly that she will be with her family who can take care of her AND the medical team there is already familiar with her case.
Because the procedure is fairly new (and revolutionary for people with her condition) there is a few months wait.
Hence the expectation is that she will get the procedure done around New Years.
Thank you so very much for all your help. I do have a vested interest in all this myself...I will have a copy-editor who is not completely blind!