Formerly Blind And Deaf Toddler Sees And Hears Mom For The First Time

April 25, 2016

Her whole life, 2-year-old Nicolly Pereira couldn't see or hear her mother. The deaf and blind toddler from rural Brazil knew her mother's love mostly through touch.

But recently, Nicolly gazed into her mother's teary eyes for the first time. A wide smile filled her face and she instantly pressed her forehead against mama's, her tiny hands on her mother's shoulders.

"The only word that can be used to describe the feeling is 'God,'" Nicolly's mother, Daiana Pereira, 26, said Saturday at Miami's Bascom Palmer Eye Institute. "My daughter is free now. She now shines more than before. She has now become a reference for people who didn't believe in miracles."

Nicolly was diagnosed with pediatric glaucoma shortly after birth. Doctors confirmed that she couldn't even see light. Back home in Santa Catarina, Brazil, Nicolly received seven surgeries; they were unsuccessful. But when Pereira posted her story on Facebook, it went viral — more than 30,000 people started to follow Nicolly's mission to one day see.

Eventually, a Miami viewer contacted the Jackson Health Foundation's International Kids Fund (Wonderfund), which partnered with the local Kevin Garcia Foundation. Together, the organizations raised more than $17,000 to pay for Nicolly's surgery at Bascom Palmer.

Alana Grajewski, director of the institute's pediatric glaucoma center, performed a three-hour surgery on March 17 and was able to restore little Nicolly's sight, an achievement she had not thought likely.

"When she arrived, I felt I had made a mistake, because normally when they have the children arrive, they have some sort of vision that's measurable," Grajewski said. "We have a technician look at them initially and . . . they wrote down that Nicolly couldn't see anything, not even a light."

Eye pressure in children is normally from 10 to 20. Nicolly's was at 50. Grajewski said she felt discouraged but still had hope.

After surgery, Nicolly's eye pressure decreased to 12.

"It was amazing," she said. "Everything came together. The first day after surgery she had eye patches on both eyes."

Even with the patches, though, Nicolly knew something had changed. She was "smiling ear to ear and singing," Grajewski said. "I loved the feeling of first seeing her mom's face. That just moved me so much. . . . Then all of a sudden, she realized: 'Oh my gosh, that's my mom.' And her mother could tell the recognition. It was just one of those moments — priceless."

For months, Pereira believed her lively child was also deaf and developmentally disabled since she didn't talk or walk. But after arriving in the U.S., Nicolly was examined by University of Miami doctors, who discovered she had water buildup in her inner ears. The doctors donated their time and performed surgery to drain the water, which took about 30 minutes. Both procedures were done on the same day.

Nicolly can now hear, see, sing and stand on her own. Although she is nearsighted, the little girl giggles and rolls around, all while sporting her new rose-colored glasses.

Story via Miami Herald.

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