Cheryl was born with congenital aniridia. Aniridia is a condition where the person has very little or no iris (color) in one or both eyes. The iris is a muscle which controls the size of the pupil to allow different amounts of light into the eye. If the iris is incomplete or missing, then the pupil will be very large (dialated). This means that the eye isn’t able to adjust to differing levels of light. Aniridia can cause poor vision and sensitivity to light. In Cheryl's case, she has no iris in either eye, has poor vision and she is very sensitive to light. Many babies born with aniridia suffer loss of eyesight early in life. Cheryl has been very blessed to have kept her eyesight all these years.
Unfortunately, in December, her eyes took a turn for the worse. Due to an eye infection and irritation, she is no longer able to use the contacts that had an artifical iris on them to correct her vision. Also, using the contacts was causing the stem cells in the eyes to start to die. Should she continue to use her contacts, this will ultimately cause her to lose her eyesight. Being unable to use her contacts, Cheryl is no longer able to see clearly enough to continue her job driving city bus in Bemidji, MN. But more than that, there is no aspect of everyday life untouched by this drastic change in vision. Tasks that had been minor or simple (such as reading, driving, and working) have become complicated, challenging, or impossible because of the combination of poor vision, as well as the extreme sensitivity to light, which is one of the side effects of Aniridia.
The good news: there is a medical procedure, a more permanent solution than contacts, that can help to correct Cheryl's vision. This procedure involves implanting an artificial iris in each eye, to enable the eye to work and focus in a more correct manner.
The bad news: the cost and logistics of this procedure are huge. The implants costs $10,000 and the surgery to put them in is at least $10,000. This is not including the cost of the exams, nor the travel expenses to get to a facility that can perform the surgery. The place that Cheryl has been referred to that can perform the surgery is in Cincinnati.
The earliest that there is an appointment available is May 17th. This is an initial exam. Then $10,000 must be paid for the implants to be ordered for manufacture, which takes up to 12 weeks. It will take some appointments before the surgery and then several more appointments for follow up, a total of a least 6 trips to the specialist in Cincinnati (approx. 920 miles from Bemidji).
The funds that are raised will not only help with manufacture of the implants and the procedure, but will also help with the many travel and lodging expenses involved. Any amount given is greatly appreciated!
- Wendi Fogelson
- Food, Fun, Friends bake sale fundraiser
- Garage sale fundraiser
- Kandice Magnan
- Lindsey Swinborne
Organizer and beneficiary
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