Whitney was born with sporadic Aniridia (absence of the iris) and has been legally blind since birth. She was diagnosed with this at two weeks old where we were told that she would be blind, no rx we were also told that there may be a chance that she had WAGR syndrome which stands for Wilms Kidney Tumor, viagra Aniridia, medicine Genitalia deformities, and Retardation, so we really didn't know what we would be facing as she got older. We went to all the right Doctor's, geneticist and so on and eventually found out that the type she had was Sporadic and not with the WAGR syndrome but still had to have ultrasounds periodically to check her kidneys for tumors.
Whitney went through school with minimal problems and accommodations and did most of the things the rest of the children did. In the sixth grade she got the "Stand" award out of all of the school for standing for what she believed in and being an excellent student. High school was a bit of a struggle, mostly with math, but she was still was able to graduate with a 3.6 GPA and received the "Heart of the Falcon" award that was given to only one student in the senior class for her outstanding character with teachers and students, and received a scholarship with that award. She also was a recipient of the Lions scholarship, Rotary scholarship, and several others.
Whitney went on to Francis Marion University with a Major in Psychology and graduated with a BA in 2009. She intends on furthering her education and going to graduate school in the near future when she is able to see better and major in Christian Crisis Counseling. Whitney is employed by Kohls Department Store, but recently had to take a leave of absence due to her vision and all of the upcoming surgeries.
Whitney had her first Iris implant on January 4, 2011 and is scheduled for her second surgery on February 8th at the Cincinnati Eye Institute. The first surgery went very well and Whitney has not had any complications what so ever. It consisted of removing the cataract, replacing it with a Intraocular lens, smoothing the cornea and placing the Iris implant. Whitney is doing wonderful and is seeing somewhat clearer in that eye since the surgery. She still has a very long way to go with the second eye followed by Stem cell transplants in about 6 months and then eye lid lifts. We are very optimistic that all of the surgeries will go as smooth as the first.
Finally, I would like to say this was all made possible with the help of Mr. Gregg Turner of South Carolina Lions Charitable Services and the Darlington Lions Club. We are so very grateful that they stepped in and helped because without that we would have had to put off surgery and wait until the funds could be raised. We were so amazed at how fast The Lions Club reacted to assist us with this process. These people didn't even know us and they reacted as if they were a part of our family for years. The Lions have changed my daughter's life forever!
With deepest gratitude,
The James Family