By: Sandra Markle
Publisher: Lerner Publications
Publication Date: September 2010
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: September 2010
Mike wasn't born blind, but rather a tragic accident at the age of three damaged his left eye so badly it had to be removed. His other eye, unfortunately, was virtually useless. Mike's parents didn't give up hope and went in search of medical technology that could possibly restore sight to his right eye. He had two corneal transplants, spaced a few years apart, but both were unsuccessful because his "body's immune system (organs, tissues, and cells working together to protect the body) attacked the donor cornea tissue." With help Mike was able to become an independent, successful adult who could even ski. As a matter of fact, he set the record for blind speed skiing. He clocked in at an unbelievable 65 miles per hour.
You'll be able to read about how specialists were able to help Mike out by transplanting corneal stem cells. There are some issues with such transplants and although they are successful it has been found that people's brains process information differently. You'll be able to read about these differences and how people with normal vision process information and how Mike experiences difficulty processing some visual information. James Ellerby, a man who lost his vision when he was seven, had also experienced an unsuccessful corneal implant. As a result, he "grew up without being able to see much more than light from dark." James was not one to give up easily and when he was in his early twenties he scoured the Internet for something, anything that could help him. Dr. Claes Dohlman had just the thing for him…an artificial cornea called the Boston K-Pro.
There are many causes of blindness, yet with medical advances, some people have had their sight restored in full or in part. For example, when children are born with cataracts, the "surgeon removes the opaque lens." You'll actually be able to see Dr. Lustig at work and will see an astounding photograph of the implantation of an artificial lens. We'll get a glimpse into the lives of other people who have been similarly helped by modern medicine and technology. We'll hear Terry Byland discuss his battle with an "inherited disease, retinitis pigmentosa (RP), [that] causes the eye's light-sensitive cells to stop working," and we'll read about a "faulty gene (called RPE65)" that hindered Steven Howarth from seeing well in darkened conditions.
This is a story of courageous people who lost their sight and the phenomenal medical advances that helped restore it. Courage comes in many forms and in this book we see portraits of many people who continued to hold out hope that medical science could help them. I enjoyed the side-by-side stories of the people who were blind or going blind and the people who worked to help them. There are some amazing microphotographs to look at as well as close-ups of surgical procedures. Photographs depicting normal vision versus what one sees if they are afflicted with retinitis pigmentosa and a full page, illustrated diagramed view of the eye are especially helpful to students. In the back of the book there is an index, a glossary, a selected bibliography, and additional recommended book and website resources to explore. This is one of six books in the "Powerful Medicine" series that portrays individuals who, with the aid of modern medicine and technology, have survived.
Quill says: This is a very powerful, impressive series that anyone interested in introducing technological advances in medical science to their students should consider adding to their shelves!