By Bejay Browne
TREATMENT to try and improve the sight of a Paphos toddler who was born blind is working, his family said this week. The procedures were made possible by fundraising and donations from the public.
Iordanis (Dani) Demetrof is now three years old and has undergone two treatments in Thailand at a cost of €28,000 each. He needs three such treatments to try and help him to see.
Dani’s mother, Rafaela Dimitrova, told the Sunday Mail that since the last treatment the three-year-old has been able to walk unaided in the house, something he was too scared to do before.
He also happily plays with his toys and is learning three languages, Bulgarian, Greek and English. She said she couldn’t teach him properly before, as it wasn’t possible to show him any objects.
Just months after his birth Dani was diagnosed with severe optic disc hypoplasia by a specialist at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.
Numerous tests at a specialist ophthalmic eye centre in Limassol discovered the toddler was unable to ‘fix or follow’. He also showed no response to bright light and had roving eye movement.
More tests took place at Great Ormond Street Hospital in the UK where he was finally diagnosed as blind.
Dani’s second month long treatment was carried out in Thailand between April and May and the toddler’s sight is showing encouraging improvement according to his eye specialist in Cyprus.
Every three months Dani visits Dr Kyriaki Evangelatou, a specialist at the Pantheo Clinic in Limassol, which is dedicated to the treatment of eye disorders.
“At our last visit she confirmed that the ophthalmic nerve of the right eye is showing great progress in development. The nerve in the left eye is showing less, but there is still some progress,” Dimitrova said.
According to Dani’s mum, the toddler is still too young to explain clearly what he can see but he cannot yet see colours, but the doctor has confirmed he is now seeing lights. She also said that her son now reaches out to take a toy.
He was unable to do this before as he was completely blind. He now brings the toys very close to his eyes to try to understand exactly what he is seeing.
“The doctor has said that this shows he has started to see.”
The toddler’s procedures are very painful, said his mum, and he is brave although he often cries. During the treatment he usually has a fever; but according to the clinic’s doctors, this means Dani’s body is experiencing a good reaction and that the procedure is working.
Specialist doctors in Thailand have informed the family that after the three treatments have been completed, Dani will soon start seeing up to a distance of two metres. These results will improve over time as the developing nerve needs time to grow.
“The hope is that after the treatment he could use strong glasses and live a normal life. In the clinic in Thailand we met a child who had amazing results two years after the treatment was completed,” said Dimitrova.
Dani will require a third treatment which is due to take place in Thailand in April next year. The family will need to raise in excess of 20,000 euros to cover the costs and will once again begin fund raising in the coming weeks.
The toddler’s last trip was made possible when the shortfall of the final €5,000 was donated by the Limassol based Russian entrepreneur Andrey Dashin, founder of Alpari and ForexTime Ltd.
Family members managed to raise about €16,000 in total, while another €7,000 came from fundraising events
Dimitrova said: “All of Dani’s family would like to thank everybody who has supported him for his treatments so far. We won’t give up and will continue trying to help Dani to see and to enable him to have a happy childhood.”
Dani is now due to start nursery school in September.
Dani’s family members speak little English, but do have friends who are able to translate. They understand Greek. To contact Dani’s family email:- [email protected]