Atlas Lee Broms was born on September 13, 2018 at St. David’s North in Austin; 9lbs 21in of healthy baby boy. However, we quickly learned within the first 24 hours of being parents that our son did not have a red reflex, the reddish-orange reflection of light from the eye's fundus, one of three markers they test for visually at birth. Something was blocking his vision. After a specialist came in to check Atlas’s eyes, we received news that he was born with bilateral congenital cataracts, a condition that effects 1 in approximately 10,000 children.
After a handful of serendipitous events, we were extremely lucky to find two of the very best specialists for Atlas, Dr. Harper and Dr. Young of Austin Retina Associates. We were scared as to what this meant for Atlas’s future. Will he be able to see? Would he be able to have a "normal" life? There were (and still are) many unknowns. Surgery was the best option for Atlas to achieve a chance at normal vision.
He received corrective surgery for his right eye at 6 weeks of age, and his left eye at 7 weeks. The doctor removed his lens and cataract in each eye, leaving a space for a replacement lens to be inserted at a later date. Both surgeries proved to be a huge success and he healed up just as we had hoped. At about 8 weeks of age Atlas was fitted for glasses, since he no longer has lenses in his eyes. We thought that we could all finally focus on and enjoy Atlas just being a baby since his next surgery, the lens replacement, wouldn't be until he was a bit older. As it turned out, we were wrong.
At 4 months old we took Atlas in for a check up with Dr. Harper and found out that while his left eye looked good, the opening in his right eye had closed up and clouded over again, which meant more surgery. Two weeks later Atlas received the surgery to once more clear out the cataract, and once more the procedure was a success.
Since the surgeries, Atlas has been a trooper and is growing stronger everyday. We are both in awe of his resilience. He is still wearing glasses, but will be fitted for contacts at 6 months to help his vision progress.
It feels good to finally be able to take a deep breath and overcome this hurdle, however now we have a new hurdle in front of us: medical bills. Each initial surgery was around $25,000.00, while his follow up surgery was closer to $16,000.00. Although we are lucky enough to have help with health insurance, they are only covering a portion of the surgeries, still leaving a hefty bill for a preschool teacher and a yoga instructor to try and get ahead of, let alone keep up with.
Thank you so much for your support, generosity and kind hearts.
- Kerry Gray
- Kim McConnell
- Suzanne Moore
- Marianne Shivers
- Sara Garcia
Organizer and beneficiary
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