Angel was born with congenital cataracts – one of the most easily treated causes of blindness in infants.
During 2014, SEE International and teams of volunteer SEE Docs restored sight to more than 1,400 people during 38 expeditions throughout Mexico. During one of these expeditions, Dr. James B. Conahan met a 4-year-old boy in Zihuatanejo named Angel. Angel’s mother, Cecilia, knew something was wrong with her son’s eyes when he would drop his toys and have difficulty finding them. After an initial misdiagnosis, Angel’s parents took him to a local ophthalmologist who diagnosed him with cataracts. Both of Angel’s eyes were affected, but treatment was too costly for the family, and his vision remained clouded in shadows. His school couldn’t provide him with a specialized education, and so the social and playful child began to stay at home.
James B. Conahan, M.D., and his wife and surgical assistant, Molly, traveled from Colorado to help Angel on a follow-up trip. Dr. Conahan has been providing humanitarian eye care in Zihuatanejo for years, and has restored sight to hundreds of people. He was especially concerned about Angel because early intervention is key with children’s cataracts. In developed countries like the US, children are typically treated in the first months of life. If untreated, the brain will not properly develop the ability to see, and the damage becomes irreversible.
A Mother’s Face
Fortunately, Angel’s operation was a success. Angel’s mother said, “every morning, he used to have to call me from his bed to help him get up, get dressed, and take him to school. But the day after, I woke up to find that he had gotten up himself, walked into my room, and was stroking my face. He could see me for the first time in his life, and he said ‘Mama! Tu eres bella!‘ (‘Mom! You’re so beautiful!’).” Thanks to the Conahans and SEE’s supporters, where there had been shadows, Angel can now see the world around him. As Angel said to his mother, it is beautiful.
If you have followed Angel’s story, watch the latest update on Angel’s progress in this recorded webinar with James B. Conahan, M.D. who performed the surgery and returned to check up on Angel’s process a year later.
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“He could see me for the first time in his life, and he said ‘Mama! Tu eres bella!‘ (‘Mom! You’re so beautiful!’)”Angel's Mother