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Surgery brings smiles to youngest patient

Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center | Eye Care

When Mark A. Terry, M.D. first met Paxton, a toddler from Idaho who needed surgery, he said he saw a "young child who was scared, in pain and functionally bilaterally blind."

Dr. Terry recalled that Paxton's parents had been heartbroken when he couldn't learn to speak because he couldn't see his parents' lips move, he cried from the pain of blistered corneas if lights weren't dimmed and he'd suck his thumb in a fetal position when approached by strangers. 

Young Paxton had already undergone corneal surface surgery at a major university, but still was suffering when an Idaho doctor referred him to Legacy Devers Eye Institute.

After the exam, Dr. Terry said it was obvious to him that surgery was necessary to replace the inner layer of the cornea, but the surgery had never been done on any patient younger than seven.

Dr. Terry discussed the surgery with Paxton's parents who agreed it was their best chance. The parents knew this surgery had first began in Terry's lab 16 years ago.

To find donor tissue, a nationwide call was put out by the Oregon Viols VisionGift program.

Once the donor tissue was located, the surgery was scheduled for a couple of weeks later at Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center. Though the surgery was difficult, it went flawlessly, Dr. Terry said.  

Dr. Terry thought Paxton wouldn't be out of the woods for several weeks as they waited for the donor tissue to adhere and the swelling to go down. But after just a week, Paxton was able to open his eyes in a bright room without pain and smiled at seeing his mother for what may have been the first time.