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Baby Jaiden's perfect gift

Published: 21 Dec 2012 13:000 comments

Christmas has come early for an Alloa mum - after she learned that her three-month-old baby might retain the gift of sight.

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When tiny Jaiden McInally was born, his mother Natasha (30) told the midwife she was concerned after spotting a white area in his left eye.

A paediatrician at Forth Valley Royal Hospital took a look and at just five days old, little Jaiden was sent to Falkirk Hospital to see a specialist.

After having dye put in his eye and going through an ultrasound, the doctor told Natasha there was nothing they could do.

Natasha told the Advertiser, "That was the first thing out of her mouth, 'He's going to have a lazy eye and will then go blind.' I was stunned. It was upsetting to hear and I was angry as it was not what I was expecting."

Natasha asked for a second opinion, which led to another Falkirk doctor diagnosing Peter's Anomaly: a rare congenital condition that makes the cornea cloudy, eventually leading to blindness.

Again, though, Natasha was told there was nothing they could do to save Jaiden's sight. But she refused to take no for an answer and started to

look online.

"I kept researching and researching," said the mum, who has lived in Clackmannanshire all of her life. She looked to America for treatment, but knew she could not raise enough cash to get Jaiden there before he was too old - at four-months - for the operation.

Returning to her original doctor at Falkirk Hospital, Natasha asked about coloured contacts to cover the white mark and any future blindness.

She was told that would not be an option until Jaiden was of secondary school age.

Natasha said, "It felt like they were telling me, 'He's got one good eye, so just get on with it'."

Whilst online searching for colour contacts, Natasha came across the story of Eva Joyce, a four-month-old from down south, who had also been diagnosed with Peter's Anomaly.

After being born blind, the tot was the youngest patient in the UK at the time to have a corneal transplant - giving her a chance to see.

Natasha said, "Once I read the story I was raging because no one had said someone in Britain could possibly fix Jaiden."

She then researched the doctor who performed the surgery, consultant ophthalmologist Manoj Parulekar, and tracked him down to Birmingham

Children's Hospital.

Within a matter of days Natasha had emailed Dr Parulekar, asked for a referral and was scheduled an appointment down south in three weeks time.

Natasha said, "When I emailed him in the afternoon and explained the situation, he replied by 9.30pm that night. At this point I felt it was all turning around. I was all hyped up and so happy. Now we were going to

get answers."

Natasha reached out to family and friends on Facebook to help fund the 600-mile round-trip to Birmingham. Everyone banded together and soon Natasha, Jaiden and her mum Susan were on their way.

After four-and-a-half hours of tests, none of which were carried out in Scotland, Natasha said, "We were told the worst at Falkirk, so we didn't expect anything. Then

Dr Parulekar gave us options - Jaiden could get a new pupil, he could widen the pupil or do a partial cornea transplant.

"We thought the man was great. We couldn't believe it. We were phoning everyone back home. Finally something was getting done."

Jaiden was sent home with eye drops and

patches to use on his right eye to strengthen the sight in his left.

Just over a week later, he was booked in for an eye operation and on Tuesday 4 December he went under the knife, emerging three hours later with a partial cornea transplant.

Natasha said, "I was nervous. I just sat there the entire time. I thought they must be doing the graft with the amount of time it was taking, but I trusted them completely and wasn't worried."

Jaiden has since seen a consultant at Stobhill Hospital in Glasgow - one who had assisted on the Eva Joyce case.

Pragmatic Natasha knows what has happened is not a miracle cure and that his vision might not be 100 per cent, but she is simply delighted that he now has a fighting chance.

Natasha added, "His chances are better now. To other people out there in a similar situation - don't give up hope. Don't stop trying."

Natasha wished to thank all those who donated money to fund the hospital trips - with special mention to Jane McTaggart and Alloa & District Round Table.

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