P.E.I. man hopes to regain vision through treatment in Boston
© Guardian photo by Jim Day
Derek Morrison, right, says watching his brother Paul go the past six years without eye sight "pulls at your heart strings''. Surgery in Boston next month, though, may restore Paul's vision.
Paul Morrison can’t wait to hop back on a motorcycle.
He will, however, need to wait. He will also need some good fortune.
The 37-year-old Pleasant Grove man has been legally blind for the past six years. Surgery next month at the Boston Foundation for Sight (the procedure is not available in Canada) could restore his vision.
He likes the odds of the PROSE treatment, which includes designing, fabricating and fitting multiple trial devices, going well.
The chance of Morrison getting working sight back — vision sufficient to work, read and play sports — is pegged at about 89 per cent, he says. He says successful surgery that comes with plenty of follow-up treatment would be nothing short of life-changing. His eyes tear up at the thought of being able to see how family and friends look today. He would also love to see what the many people he has met since losing his sight look like. He has one activity in mind in particular, though, if and when he can see again.
“Hop on the bike and go around the shore will be the first trip,’’ he said without hesitation.
Morrison laments losing the ability to pursue his many passions, like riding a motorcycle and playing fastball. The door closed on those activities and much more when he suffered a severe infection in both eyes, resulting in the loss of his sight.
The infection was a side effect of experimental medication he was taking to deal with aplastic anemia, a condition where bone marrow does not produce sufficient new cells to replenish blood cells. That condition left him in need of hundreds of blood transfusions.
Now he has his sight set on restorative eye surgery.
Morrison says he is trying not to get too excited about the surgery to minimize the disappointment if things don’t work out.
He also must prepare for the considerable expense. The procedure will cost about $20,000. Other expenses like travel and follow-up treatment will add thousands of dollars in cost.
Friends and family are stepping up in an attempt to raise funds.
A benefit is set for Sept. 29 at 7 p.m. at the North Shore Community Centre. There will be local entertainment and a dance beginning at 9 p.m. Admission is by donation at the door. Donations can also be made online at email@example.com or at any branch of Scotiabank on P.E.I. to the Paul Morrison Trust.
Morrison, a huge Boston Bruins’ fan who finds great companionship in his blind Yellow lab named Bourque (named after former Bruins’ star Raymond Bourque), has been touched by a large show of support to his situation.
“There’s been lots and lots of help,’’ he said. “Obviously, I appreciate it more than words can say.’’
Derek Morrison is clearly pained witnessing the ongoing ordeal of his brother, who he calls his best friend.
“To have a brother go through this, it pulls at your heartstrings,’’ he said. “The long and short of it is it is pretty tough.’’