Blind World

Thigh muscle transplant allows boy to open his eyes for the first time.

August 3, 2004.

By Laura Scott,
The Irish Examiner.

A VIRTUALLY blind boy can see for the first time after surgeons performed a rare operation to transplant muscle from his thigh to allow him to open his eyelids, it emerged yesterday.

Dominic Head was born with a severe abnormality which meant his eyelid muscles were so weak that he could not open them to see properly.

The five-year-old's eyesight was hindered further by a mass of dark eyelashes.

He spent his early years with "the impression of constantly peering through black curtains", a spokesman for London's Great Ormond Street Hospital said.

For any kind of vision at all although still blurred Dominic had to tip his head backwards and try to peer from under his eyelids.

But, in April, life changed forever for the youngster from south Croydon, Surrey, after a surgical team at Great Ormond Street agreed to perform radical eye surgery on him.

During the operation, which lasted for one-and-a-half hours, surgeons cut a strip of tendon from one of Dominic's thighs and used it to attach his eyelids to his forehead muscle to give them the power to open.

Dominic's adoptive mother, Avril Head, said it had given him a new lease of life.

"Thanks to the surgery Dominic thinks he has been given a new pair of eyes," she said.

Dominic suffered from foetal alcohol syndrome believed to have been caused by his natural mother drinking too much during pregnancy.

His operation was relatively rare and the hospital has carried out just two similar procedures in the last year. A hospital spokesman said: "The doctors are delighted with the outcome of the operation, which has greatly improved Dominic's quality of life."

Irish Examiner, 2004, Thomas Crosbie Media, TCH.

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