Robert R. Maymon is a 45-year-old man living with Down syndrome in Albany, Ore. with his mother and father, Donna and Frank Caputo. About five years ago, his mental attitude and physical coordination began to decline. Robert is unable to verbally communicate, so his doctor diagnosed him with Alzheimer’s, a disease that can affect men with Down syndrome as early as 30-years-old.
“We went along with the diagnosis because he was acting so differently,” said his mother, Donna. “He became depressed and withdrawn but couldn’t explain why.”
Robert’s physical and emotional state continued to decline until they took him to an eye doctor for a routine checkup and found that he had a very advanced case of cataracts – another condition that can affect individuals with Down Syndrome at an early age.
“Cataracts made a lot of sense to us because Robert was always getting hurt running into things and was having a harder time finding the medication I would put out on the counter for him. I also recall him rubbing his eyes a lot but we just never connected the dots,” Donna recalled.
Donna and Frank were relieved by this news knowing that cataracts could be treated unlike Alzheimer’s. They promptly scheduled cataract surgery with a local physician. A few days before the surgery, the physician’s office called and cancelled without explanation. Robert and his family were at a complete loss.
“We had no idea why they cancelled but we suspect he was concerned that Robert may not cooperate with aftercare possibly undoing everything they did and make it worse", said Donna. “When we asked what other parents and caregivers do in this situation the physician told us that they choose not to do the surgery because of the high risk. At that point, we would have done anything for him to see again so were up to the task,” recalled Donna.
Losing hope that Robert’s vision would ever be restored, Donna and Frank put out a call for prayers to their loved ones across the United States. A couple months later, Donna and Frank’s prayers were answered when the phone rang and the caller identified herself as a scheduler from Legacy Devers Eye Institute
in Portland, Ore. They told him Dr. Robert Kinast
, glaucoma specialist and surgeon, was going to take Robert’s case.
Robert had always a hard time trusting doctors so Donna and Frank didn’t know how the first appointment with Dr. Kinast would go.
“Initially, Robert seemed quite reserved, even slightly afraid,” said Dr. Kinast. “His parents are amazing caretakers; once he sensed they trusted me, he began to open up.”
“It was truly a miracle not only to have Devers call us out of the blue but also to have Dr. Kinast connect with Rob so well,” Donna recalled.
Dr. Kinast did the surgery on both eyes and it went perfectly.
“It was joy to care for Robert. He’s a sweet man, and I’m delighted for him,” Dr. Kinast said.
Today, Robert’s cataracts are gone and he is flourishing. He is no longer facing an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, he has been able to get his sense of independence back and return to his favorite activities such as shopping at Costco with his mom.
“He went from being completely blind in one eye and only seeing shadows in the other to having 20/40 vision,” said Donna. “His attitude has completely changed and he is back to what he was like 15 years ago. It’s a miracle.”
Contact Megan Deisler with questions.