A precious Christmas gift: Newborn baby is youngest in Britain to undergo surgery to save her eyesightDue to rare congenital condition Eva was born blind”We were devastated “: Parents feared the worstTwo three-hour operations restore full vision
It was the Christmas gift her parents feared she would never receive.
Eva Joyce, who was born blind, is able to see her mum and dad for the first time after becoming the youngest patient in the UK to have a corneal transplant.
Four-month-old Eva suffered from Peter”s anomaly, a rare congenital condition which makes the cornea cloudy.
Four-month-old Eva Joyce with her parents and sister Jessica
Her parents, Harriet and Matthew, were worried that their daughter would never be able to see.
Mrs Joyce, 33, said: “When Eva was born and eventually opened her eyes, we realised that her corneas were cloudy.
“We didn”t appreciate the severity of it, and it wasn”t until we were referred to a hospital in Sheffield the following week and Eva”s eyes were tested that we realised that she had no vision at all. She was blind.
“We were devastated. For the next 24 hours of her life, we thought she would never be able to see.
During two three-hour operations surgeons removed the cloudy corneas and replaced them with clear lenses
“It is such a rare occurrence that we were told it was unlikely anything could be done.”
Eva, from Winterton, near Scunthorpe, was referred to Birmingham Children”s Hospital some 115 miles away, where specialists suggested she could have a transplant.
At just two-and-a-half weeks old, the little girl had her right cornea removed and replaced with a healthy donor cornea in a three-hour operation.
When she was four weeks old, the same procedure was carried out on her left eye.
Six weeks of hourly eye drops followed, and Eva is still taking anti-rejection drugs as her age meant there was an increased risk of her body failing to accept the donor corneas.
But it didn”t stop her spending Christmas at home with her parents and three-year-old sister Jessica.
Mr Joyce, 34, said: “From feeling really low at the beginning, it went to feeling quite giddy. When someone tells you your daughter will be able to see, it is quite special.
“As soon as we turned the Christmas lights on this year, her eyes lit up.”
The family is still making the 230-mile round trip to the hospital every fortnight for check-ups, and Eva will continue to be monitored there until she is 16.
Consultant ophthalmologist Manoj Parulekar said: “We look forward to seeing her grow up and do all the things her friends and big sister can do.”
Mrs Joyce, who is an intensive care nurse at Scunthorpe General Hospital, added: “We feel incredibly lucky that someone has made the decision to donate organs to help people like Eva in what must be extremely sad circumstances.”