Two-year-old Nicolly Pereira had been blind and deaf since birth. But her mom believes in miracles and never lost faith that her daughter would one day see her face and hear her voice. So, after seven failed surgeries to restore her baby girl’s vision and hearing in her homeland of Brazil, she had one last hope – to travel to the United States for the miracle she had always dreamed of…
Little Nicolly was unable to see, hear, walk or talk. In fact, she was so far behind other children of her age that her mom, Daiana, thought that she was developmentally challenged.
When she was a baby, Nicolly was diagnosed with infant glaucoma. Sometimes called primary congenital glaucoma, the condition involves fluid building up around the eyes, which consequently affects vision. Sadly, it’s thought to affect one in 10,000 children. And, if untreated, it can cause permanent blindness.
Infant glaucoma manifests itself when the baby is still in the womb as cells and tissues around the eye don’t develop conventionally. So, when the eye’s natural fluids are unable to drain properly it can cause a build-up in pressure.
And although it’s not fully understood what causes the disease, doctors believe that it’s hereditary. However, with early detection, corrective surgery can be performed – with an 80-90 per cent success rate.
For Nicolly, though, the prognosis did not look good. Whereas most children have the ability to detect some sort of light, the toddler could see nothing at all. In fact, her fluid build-up had gotten so severe that her hearing was also affected. Consequently, she couldn’t speak. She had also never learned how to walk, unable to follow by example.
And after seven surgical procedures in Brazil did little to improve matters, doctors subsequently believed that Nicolly’s sight was a lost cause. Indeed, they didn’t think that there was anything more they could do to help the two-year-old. Utterly devastated, the news left Daiana with little option but to pray for a miracle to cure her baby girl. Then, she posted her story to Facebook.
Subsequently, her friends and family liked and shared her post a few times. Then, their friends liked and shared the post as well. Before long, the ripple effect drew 30,000 people into following Nicolly’s story and learning of her mother’s hope that a miracle might one day happen.
Eventually, the story reached a resident of Miami, Florida. This crucial moment set in motion a chain of events that would transform a mother’s prayer for a miracle into something far more realistic. Indeed, when the story reached Miami, it was shared with the Jackson Health Foundation – which runs a program called the International Kids Fund – along with local charity, the Kevin Garcia Foundation.
Joining forces , the two charities brought together an entire community to help Nicolly. For example, a ten-year-old boy bought her and her mom airline tickets with the prize money he had won in a car race. That meant that Nicolly and her mother could come to the U.S. Meanwhile, they also had six weeks of accommodation paid for them by another organization while Nicolly was assessed at Miami’s Bascom Palmer Eye Institute.
Here, Dr. Ramzi Younis, who specializes in children’s ear, nose and throat care, examined Nicolly. He discovered that it was the fluid build-up from her glaucoma that was causing the youngster’s hearing problems. However, Alana Grajewski, the director of the pediatric glaucoma center at the institute, wasn’t convinced that they could help her.
Speaking to the Miami Herald, Grajewski said, “When she arrived, I felt like I had made a mistake. Normally when they have the children arrive, they have some sort of vision that’s measurable. We had a technician look at them initially and… they wrote down that Nicolly couldn’t see anything, not even a light.”
The pressure in Nicolly’s eyes was measured and found to be abnormally high. But although Grajewski was a touch skeptical, she was nonetheless determined to do what she could to try to help Nicolly.
To start with, the fluid on Nicolly’s ears was drained – a procedure that took around half an hour. Then, after an hour-long examination, Grajewski performed the surgery on the little girl’s eyes. Each eye was operated on for around an hour. And then came an agonizing wait for the outcome.
After surgery, Nicolly’s eye pressure had dropped significantly. Grajewski, who had not been entirely convinced that the procedure would necessarily work, was stunned. “It was amazing!” she told the Miami Herald. “Everything came together.” Even while wearing eye patches, Nicolly already noticed that something was different.
A moving video shows the incredible moment when Nicolly’s patches are removed and her new world comes swimming into focus. Daiana’s “miracle” had come true, and in the video she’s unable to control her emotions. Seeing her mom for the first time, Nicolly throws her arms around her neck as tears of joy flow freely down Daiana’s face.
“[Nicolly was] smiling ear to ear and singing,” Grajewski told the Miami Herald. “I loved the feeling of first seeing her mom’s face. That just moved me so much. Then all of a sudden [Nicolly] realized, ‘Oh gosh, that’s my mom.’ And her mother could tell the recognition. It was just one of those moments: Priceless.”
For many months, Daiana had believed that her daughter would be permanently unable to see or hear. Now, however, although she needs glasses to correct near-sightedness, she can see, hear and walk, all while singing her favorite song, “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” What the future holds for Nicolly’s sight, however, remains uncertain.
Unfortunately, there is a risk that the condition could return. Nicolly will need regular checkups for the rest of her life to ensure this doesn’t happen, but if it does it can be treated again. What’s more, the Bascom doctors who successfully treated Nicolly will train doctors in Brazil in glaucoma detection and the modern techniques in treating the condition.
Of her daughter’s newly restored vision, Daiana told the Miami Herald, “The only word that can be used to describe the feeling is “God.” My daughter is free now. She shines more than before. She has now become a reference for people who didn’t believe in miracles.”