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At the young age of seven, Denilson has already experienced a lifetime of challenges and triumphs. A bright, outgoing child who lives in an orphanage in Patzun, Guatemala, Denilson began to lose his sight at age three. Concerned that he would go blind, the nuns from the orphanage visited Guatemalan physicians before coming to the realization that his condition would require health care expertise that could not be found in their home country.
Turning to a group of missionaries from St. Richard Church in Gibsonia, PA, the sisters at the orphanage made a connection with doctors at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. After reviewing his medical records, the specialists knew Denilson would be a good candidate for surgery to stop the progression of the disease and save his eye sight.
With the help of donations from the Gibsonia church, Denilson made the long trip to Pittsburgh. Almost completely blind, he was seen by Kanwal Nischal, MD, FRCOphth, chief of the Division of Pediatric Ophthalmology, Strabismus, and Adult Motility who diagnosed an acquired ocular condition that caused cataracts, inflammation in the eyes, an opaque cornea and nonfunctioning retinas. He had also lost all depth perception in both eyes. While Denilson’s condition was rare, Dr. Nischal knew the visual potential was still there and recommended pediatric strabismus corneal surgery to reverse the damage.
After his surgery, Denilson’s eyes began to heal and with that healing came improved eyesight. He began to see and experience things that his younger counterparts had always taken for granted. While still in the United State, Denilson went swimming and rode a bike for the first time. He saw the deep red in trucks he visited at a local fire station and witnessed the bright colors of fireworks. On his way home, he marveled at the sight of the clouds outside of the airplane windows. His friends cheered when he sunk his first ball in a game of playground basketball. And every day he studies his face in the mirror before putting on his first pair of eye glasses, excited about the miracle that he has received thanks to his care at Children’s Hospital.
For Dr. Nischal, Denlison’s case is a reminder of the specialized care that is only available at a facility that focuses on the treatment of rare disorders.
“Although Denilson’s condition was rare, we see this disease more often and are experts despite the rarity,” notes Dr. Nischal. “We have become a tertiary referral center, taking cases that others do not want because we have the technology and teaching expertise to handle rare conditions.”
To seek a consultation or refer a patient to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, contact our International Services team by phone at +1-412-692-3000 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Pittsburgh, PA 15224
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