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Gorham Woman Sees After 34 Years of Blindness

March 25, 1985

CENTRALIA, Ill. (AP) _ A woman who had gone through four unsuccessful eye operations has finally seen her daughter for the first time since 1951 - when her daughter was two years old.

″I can see you,″ Fern Hindman, 73, of Gorham, told Nancy Alstat as bandages were removed after cornea transplant surgery at St. Mary’s Hospital. ″You’ve got on red ... I can see four fingers.″

″I just want to go outside and yell to the world, ’She can see 3/8‴ said Mrs. Alstat, of Vandalia.

Four previous operations in Murphysboro and St. Louis were painful and unsuccesful and Mrs. Alstat said her mother had given up hope of seeing again. She had not visited an ophthalmologist in 25 years.

But she said that after her husband Bob heard a presentation on the Lions Club’s eye donor program last November, he convinced Mrs. Hindman that she might be able tp have a cornea transplant. The family visited Dr. Douglas Rampona of the Centralia Eye Clinic, who told them Mrs. Hindman was a good candidate for the surgery.

″That was the best word we had heard in a long time,″ Mrs. Alstat said. ″But nobody wanted to get too excited.″

They were notified last Wednesday that a cornea was available from an anonymous donor, and the 90-minute procedure was performed later that day at St. Mary’s Hospital.

On Thursday, Rampona pronounced the operation a success, Mrs. Hindman said.

″He took the bandage off and I could see - not as clear as it could have been; faces were blurred up,″ she said. ″But the doctor says it’s going to get clear.″

Rufus Hindman, 80, said restored eyesight is a key step in his wife’s recovery from a stroke last April.

″When she gets to where she can see, this will be a shot in the arm and will help improve her speech,″ said Hindman, a retired teacher.

Mrs. Hindman said she has some priorities among things to do now that she can see again.

Among them, she said, was taking her first look at her son-in-law. She did not see Alstat during the brief time the bandages were removed, but she is looking forward to seeing him because without his prodding she still might be blind.

In addition, ″I’d like to go see my seven grandchildren,″ Mrs. Hindman said.

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