Mesa, Ariz. — A baby boy was born without eyes to a family in the East Valley. 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.