Gift of Sight: Bedford County toddler gets life-changing procedure

Published: Jul. 18, 2019 at 2:13 PM EDT
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A Bedford County family is home after getting a life-changing procedure for their son.

Three-year-old Luke Ward was born with a degenerative eye disease that would eventually leave him completely blind.

But now, his story is being rewritten.

Just weeks ago, playing "Connect 4" with his sister wasn't possible for the Bedford County toddler. "We knew pretty early on, about six weeks old, something was different," explained Luke's mother, Stephanie Laine.

His parents knew something was different when they noticed Luke would only stare at bright lights and when he wasn't keeping up with his twin sister, Leia.

"It was just a process of ruling out brain tumors and other disorders," said Laine.

Then, the family landed on "Leber's Congenital Amaurosis."

It's an inherited retinal degenerative disease with a severe loss of vision at birth and no known cure.

But last year, the family learned of a gene therapy procedure that could cure it.

"It has been a journey," Laine said.

After the family learned that Luke was a perfect match for surgery, they traveled to the nearest qualified surgeon in Miami last month.

Three weeks later, both eyes were completed. "When I saw her carrying him back, I just lost it," said Carson Ward, Luke's father. "It was just uh..."

A miracle, the family says, because just days later, Luke could see.

Giving Luke the Gift of Sight and rewriting his story.

"I was told sitting in a doctor's office that Luke would probably lose total vision by the time he graduates high school and then being told that 'hey we can fix this,' has been pretty life-changing," said Laine.

"He's going to see pretty close to how we see," added Ward.