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When a family with brown eyes has a baby born with blue eyes, it raises some eyebrows. For Jasem Alsagar’s family and doctors, his unusual eye color was the sign of a serious medical condition that potentially could lead to blindness.
Jasem was born with congenital glaucoma in both eyes. His condition was extremely severe as both corneas were completely cloudy and were not draining well, which could potentially lead to scarring and blindness. His doctors in Kuwait gave little hope to his parents, Besma and Abdullah, that Jasem would ever see normally or be able to attend school when he grew older.
Without the knowledge or facilities to treat such a severe case, Jasem’s doctors referred him to Ken Nischal, MD, FRCOphth, one of the world’s foremost children’s eye specialists with expertise in treating pediatric glaucoma. While located at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London, Dr. Nischal recommended surgery to place tubes in Jasem’s eyes to drain the fluid and prevent any scarring that could cause additional damage.
“Many physicians in other parts of the world don’t have the expertise to handle these types of issues,” explains Dr. Nischal.
At two weeks old, Jasem and his father traveled to London for the first of many visits and surgeries with Dr. Nischal. The first surgery involved creating a tube to allow the natural drainage that was blocked by the glaucoma and causing visual difficulties. The tubes would also help keep Jasem’s eyes from scarring in the first year, which is a crucial time in the development of the eyes for children. The surgery cleared the cloudiness in his eye.“Because of my training, I knew he could be helped.”
Within a year, Jasem developed cataracts, which is a common occurrence in children with glaucoma. The cataracts were removed in an effort to help his eyes to continue to develop normally.
In 2012, Dr. Nischal joined the staff of Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC as the chief of the Division of Pediatric Ophthalmology, Strabismus, and Adult Motility. Jasem and his family followed the physician to Pittsburgh for additional surgeries including implants to improve his focus. Most recently, the tubes became blocked again so the family brought Jasem to Children’s for follow up surgery in early 2015 to have a second tube placed in the eyes.
In between surgeries, the family travels to see Dr. Niscal in London where he also sees patients. The convenience of regular follow up visits at a location closer to home and procedures at Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh, PA serves the family very well.
“It’s a long way to Pittsburgh,” admits Besma. “But it is worth it because Children’s has the updated equipment and hospital we need. If something is more serious or wrong, we will come to Pittsburgh."
Since Dr. Nischal initially saw Jasem in London and with subsequent surgeries in Pittsburgh, Jasem has thrived in a world that his Kuwait doctors never thought was possible.
“Dr. Nischal told us that it would be a long slow journey,” remembers Besma. “He was the only one willing to work with Jasem to get him to where he is today.”
While the physicians in Kuwait told the family Jasem would be blind and never be able to attend school, the now 5-year old wears bifocals and sees well enough to attend kindergarten with his twin sister, Jana. More importantly, his mother says the progress in his eyesight has led to a more confident child who goes after everything he wants in life.
The family attributes all of his success to Dr. Nischal and his staff.
“We are so happy and grateful to have Dr. Nischal for our son,” says Besma. “He’s an amazing doctor and a genius in his field.”
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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