Q13 FOX Season of Giving

Thirteen days after birth MRI reveals baby born without eyes

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MESA, Arizona (KTVK) — A baby boy was born without eyes to a family in Arizona.

Richie Lopez is 3 months old, and his mother, Kelly Lopez, says she had a completely normal pregnancy. Her ultrasounds never hinted her son would be born without eyes.

Hours after Richie’s birth at Banner Desert Medical Center in Mesa, Lopez became concerned because her son still had not opened his eyes.

The staff, at first, thought his face was simply swollen from birth. Thirteen days later, his mother says an MRI showed Richie did not have eyes.

“I think we were just in shock. Obviously very upsetting,” she told 3TV. “The first thought through your mind is, how did this even happen and how was it not even caught?”

The family still has no answers, and various doctors have said that the condition is extremely rare.

At seven weeks, Richie had expanders placed in his eye sockets, which are designed to allow the socket to grow and one day be able to hold a prosthetic eyeball. They were held in with sutures, but during feedings and burpings, Richie managed to rub them both out.

One was lost and presumably eaten by the family dog. Lopez found the other, and while on the phone with a surgeon at 2 a.m., she was able to re-insert it.

“It was so emotional, but I knew I had to do it. I knew that he needed this and I had no other choice; we were going to get it back in,” Lopez recalled.

The family members quickly developed a positive attitude, but they are still learning to deal with insensitive comments from people in public. Richie now wears a pair of baby sunglasses.

Doctors told the family Richie does have an optic nerve, which keeps hope alive about him being able to see one day.

“That would be amazing,” his mother said. “I do hope that one day that they’ll be able to either grow an eye or transplant an eye.”

Richie is already enrolled in developmental programs designed for blind babies and plays with specially designed toys. The family is determined to see him live a life that is challenging but full.

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11 comments

    • Scotty

      To what end? Even if they transplant donor eyes, there’s no way to attach them to his brain and there’s no muscles to control them. They would be completely worthless. Richie will never have sight for his entire life.

      • Emily Dudley

        That’s not true at all! They can attach optic nerves, your a pessimistic man, keep your uneducated comments to your self!

        • d

          But your brain needs to see by six weeks or you will never develop the neural connections required for sight. (I’m a biologist, AND I have a friend whose son lacks the muscles that open his eyes, and nearly lost his ability to see because it took so long to realise he had never been able to open his eyes)

  • TODAY WAS A GOOD DAY

    He is blessed and will continue to be blessed through out his life. Family never gives up hope and as technology improves, I beleive this will be something we will all maybe not see our selfves but will happen. Never say never!

  • Frances Harville

    Wow. My daughter was born without a bladder, another extremely rare condition. I know what road these parents are facing…I wish them strength and patience! My daughter is 7 now, and healthy, happy, but does face some challenges, socially, at school and elsewhere with the uninformed. The good news is that children born with conditions like these are very resilient…they don’t know that life is supposed to be different. Helping him to live as normal a life as possible is absolutely the best way to approach it.

  • Trina

    My oldest son was born without a right eye almost 17 years ago. I had the SAME exact feelings as these parents. Why is my Son Not opening his right eye & they kept telling me he was just swollen. They did not find anything in all his ultrasounds as well, No Signs as to how this Happened! My Son has seen the same Prosthetic Eye Dr. in Seattle from day one…she has been our savior. When I read this seen this story it was almost as if I was reading about my past…word for word! Sending Prayers from our family to yours

  • Emily Dudley

    My heart and thoughts are with the family. My first child also a boy, was born blind but we didn’t figure it out until almost 4 months. He has severely underdeveloped optic nerves and has no light perception. There is hope for your son having optic nerves ! I will pray for him and your family. You aren’t alone, there are support groups, and feel free to contact me, my son is almost 14 now! My e-mail is badassdudleys@aol.com.