Miracle Thomas and Crosslinking Eye Surgery

11/14/2019

"He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free." (Lk. 4:18)

Since June, grant funding from the North Georgia Conference has provided the support needed for 16 Georgia children to receive sight-saving treatment.

The Park Eye Fund was set up for the purpose of addressing eye diseases for persons with insufficient financial resources and who would go blind if not treated. For years local churches and the Annual Conference let this fund accumulate interest until it has grown to $850,000.

At Annual Conference, our Conference Board of Trustees announced that it was starting a relationship with the Emory Eye Center to utilize $45,000 of the Fund. The anticipated usages were for Infant Aphakia Surgery and Glaucoma medicine for persons not able to afford help.

The very next week, representatives from the Board of Trustees met with staff from the Emory Eye Center. There were presented with an additional, recently approved procedure for an eye cornea disease called Keratoconus. This eye disease is progressive, irreversible and leads to blindness. The procedure to correct disease is called Crosslinking and is for a deformed cornea. The vitamin Riboflavin is placed on the eye and then ultraviolet light. This procedure has been developed in Europe for 20 years but has only been approved by the FDA in the last 2 years. During the trial period, the Riboflavin was $300/eye. Now with only one company producing the Riboflavin with one machine, the cost is $2800/eye. 

Representatives from the Board of Trustees urged the Emory Eye Center staff to use the funds for urgent and important procedures that, left untreated, would result in blindness and for persons without financial means to afford the procedures. They were asked to report fund usage to the October 31 Trustees meeting.

There was good news when it came time for Emory Eye Center's report last month. (Read the report here and the data here.)

To their surprise, no child has needed assistance with the Infant Aphakia due to lack of financial resources. However, there were 16 youth between the ages of 14-19 who needed Crosslinking treatment. These 16 cases counted for expenditures of $50,038. The Emory Eye Center also sent a detailed explanation of future expenditures for those not yet receiving both eye treatments and contact lenses for the 12-18 months after the procedure. They have 6 additional patients between 18-20 who need the procedure and all but one need it in both eyes. Since all these patients do not have financial resources to pay for the procedure and insurance does not cover this procedure, the Conference Board of Trustees voted to fund the full amount of $131,060 from the Park Eye Fund. Also, Emory Eye Center is working with the pharmaceutical company to provide Riboflavin medicine at reduced or no cost for patients without sufficient financial resources.  

This procedure may be unfamiliar, but Emory Eye Center pointed out 4 athletes who have had this procedure: Steph Curry, Tommy Pham, Brandon Williams and Steve Holcomb. Their stories are worth reading. 

Posted above is a thank you note delivered to the Conference Board of Trustees by the Emory Eye Center. A boy named Miracle Thomas received this procedure of Crosslinking using funds provided by the North Georgia Annual Conference through the Park Eye Fund. 

"We are appreciative of what you all have done for us and it will not be forgotten," wrote his family in the card.

Thank you to our Conference Trustees and our Annual Conference for being the body of Christ at work in the world!

Like the child's name, it feels like a Miracle.  


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