herald

Tuesday 21 November 2017

Blind Keri's hopes of seeing shattered as €40k eye op fails

A BLIND Irish girl who travelled to China for stem cell treatment in order to see has had her hopes dashed.

Keri Kelly (9) underwent the groundbreaking procedure in October last year. However, after an initial improvement, months later any benefit to her sight has been minimal.

Keri, from Buncrana in Co Donegal, has been blind since birth. She was born with optic nerve hypoplasia, which means her optic nerves have never grown.

She is only able to distinguish the difference between light and dark and is registered blind.



Rainbow

The schoolgirl and her mum Tracey had been desperately hoping that the procedure would allow Keri to see things for the first time. She had been eager to see her mum's face and a rainbow.

Now three months after the operation, Tracey said she is still waiting for her daughter to see properly.

"It has improved a little and she can see my face but I would love for her to see properly. That's my one and only New Year wish," said Tracey.

Tracey has been in touch with other parents whose children had stem cell treatment with Keri at the Beike Clinic in Qingdao, China.

One little girl from California saw such a dramatic improvement in her eyesight that she is now able to see perfectly wearing glasses.

"We always said we would do whatever it takes to help Keri see. It's just so frustrating that it has worked for other children and not for Keri," said her mum.

However, Tracey added that she still holds out hope that Keri will see one day.

"The doctors told us it may take a while or it may not help at all. We will just have to wait and see."

Tracey revealed that despite the disappointment little Keri is keeping her spirits up.

"She is great and does not complain but she has never complained. She knew it was a gamble too," she added.

"We will give it a year and decide if to go for more treatment. It is a lot to put Keri through again but if we thought it would improve her sight then we would have to do it again," said Tracey.

Keri, who is a pupil at Scoil Iosagain in Buncrana, was accompanied to China by her mother, while younger sister Zoe was cared for at home by her grandmother. The procedure involved seven IV treatments and a lumbar puncture, which took place over a couple of weeks.

Tracey said she would love to be able to tell people who fundraised €40,000 for Keri's treatment that the schoolgirl could see again.

"We will keep dreaming and hoping the treatment will kick in soon. Hope is all we have now," she said.

hnews@herald.ie

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