It Takes a Village
Patient: Juliana Pavon
Diagnosis: Ocular Injury
Sight Restored: December 2011
June 2, 2011: The accident details are sketchy. Eight year old Juliana and her mother Melissa, pregnant with her second child, were traveling on a dirt road somewhere outside of Tegucigalpa, Honduras. They reportedly swerved to avoid a farm animal and Juliana was ejected from the car. She survived but had catastrophic injuries to her head, face and arms from being dragged on the road.
The next months were a painful blur as doctors worked to repair the damage to her fragile little body. Her left eye ruptured and was repaired. Facial paralysis on her right side made blinking impossible and her cornea ulcerated. Other injuries required complex reconstructive surgery, but her doctors had done all they could.
Juliana was blind.
Then in August a doctor from Shriners Hospital for Children learned of Juliana’s plight and flew her to Boston for specialized care. Shriners reached out to James Chodosh, MD, Cornea Specialist at Mass Eye and Ear to evaluate her injuries.
Juliana needed a cornea transplant to restore vision to her right eye, but without the ability to blink it was destined to fail. So Dr. Chodosh called on Mass Eye and Ear colleague and BFS Medical Director Deborah S. Jacobs, MD; they hoped a PROSE device could protect the delicate ocular surface until her lid could be repaired. Dr. Jacobs joined Dr. Chodosh in the operating room- the surgery was a success.
Juliana’s dream was to be reunited with her mother, father and newborn brother Alexander in Honduras in time for Christmas. But it was already November and her vision was still compromised- a droopy lid was obscuring sight in her left eye and surgery to fix it was too risky.
Dr. Jacobs turned to Karen Carrasquillo, OD, PhD, to design a PROSE device with a special ledge to elevate the eyelid. Bilingual herself, Dr. Carrasquillo developed a close connection with Juliana: “Juliana just wanted to be able to do the things most little girls love- jumping rope, playing with Barbie dolls, going to school, laughing with friends.”
After six months away from home, Juliana returned to Honduras on December 20th, 2011. Seeing her new baby brother’s smile for the first time, she knew her Christmas wish had finally come true.
“They say it takes a village. As a member of the dedicated team of doctors who came together to help this remarkable, brave little girl, I know they couldn’t be more right.” – Dr. Debbie Jacobs