Pray for Phoenix: Doctors help restore vision with stem cell transplant

Doctors help restore vision with stem cell transplant (WKRC)

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Local eye surgeons are helping to restore a young girl's sight.

9-year-old Phoenix King was diagnosed with a painful condition that impacts the skin and the eyes.

On Wednesday, a team of surgeons at the Cincinnati Eye Institute, Children's Hospital, and St. Elizabeth Healthcare revealed the next step to save her sight.

It's taken awhile, but if you ask Phoenix King how things are going now, she'll tell you “it's really good.”

Phoenix is on the come back from some of the toughest symptoms of “Stevens-Johnson Syndrome.”

“She had an immune reaction which caused scarring of her skin but more importantly it caused scarring of the surface of her eye,” said Dr. Edward Holland of the Cincinnati Eye Institute Corneal Surgeon.

That's caused Phoenix's eyelids to fuse to the surface of her eye.

On Wednesday, Dr. Edward Holland was to conduct a unique stem cell transplant.

“We take the cells off the surface of her mother’s eye and we put them on the surface of Phoenix's eye,” said Dr. Holland.

He hopes those cells will become new skin -- on the surface layer or cornea of the eye.

“We've gone through lots of testing and tissue typing and I am a donor match for her,” said Phoenix’s mother, Nicole Richey.

It'll be a few weeks before they can tell if everything is lining up in the next step in this journey, but doctors say she's lucky to be with one of the few teams in the country that could actually take the next step, which is giving her a corneal transplant.

“If she can grow that skin, we then can do a subsequent corneal transplant and get her vision back,” said Dr. Holland.

Her family is once again asking everyone to continue to “Pray for Phoenix.” She needs healing so her body won't reject the stem cells.

As for what Phoenix wants… it's pretty simple.

“Really to help people that are like this so bad, and then they can think about what I’ve been through and then think 'oh my goodness, this is nothing compared to what that was,'” said Phoenix.

Phoenix's family traveled to Cincinnati from Alabama for this procedure.

Local 12 will share the results of both your prayers and the work of the medical team.

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