A couple whose baby couldn't open his eyes two weeks after he was born found out their child did not have eyes.
Kelly Lopez, mother of the now 3-month-old baby, Richie, said she had a completely normal pregnancy, and that an ultrasound never revealed anything wrong.
"I think we were just in shock. Obviously very upsetting," she told KTVK. "The first thought through your mind is, how did this even happen and how was it not even caught?”
After worrying her child wasn’t opening his eyes several hours after birth, the hospital staff at Banner Medical Center in Mesa, Arizona, assured her his face was inflamed from the birthing process.
But after 13 days, the hospital gave Richie an MRI, which revealed he has no eyes.
Aside from his condition, Richie is an otherwise healthy child. Surgeons sutured in expanders in his eye sockets, which allow his sockets to grow so they can one day hold prosthetic eyeballs.
Richie seems to prefer to be left the way he was born, and rubbed out both of the expanders during feedings and burpings. One of the expanders was lost and believed to be eaten by the family dog. The other was found and Kelly was able to re-insert it by getting instructions over the phone from a surgeon at 2 a.m. one morning.
"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," Kelly recalled.
The Lopez family is optimistic about Richie's future, but is preparing for "ignorant" reactions from the public. The family has good reason to be hopeful: Doctors have told the family Richie does have an optic nerve, which means one day he may be able to see. For Kelly, that brings her hope.
"That would be amazing," she said. "I do hope that one day that they'll be able to either grow an eye or transplant an eye.”
According to KTVK, the family has enrolled Richie in “developmental programs designed for blind babies and plays with specially designed toys.”
A baby was born a year earlier without eyes in Denver. Doctors have said that the babies have a rare condition, anophthalmia, which is defined as the “total absence of the eye tissue or apparent absence of the globe in an orbit that otherwise contains normal adnexal structures,” says a report by UPI. The condition occurs 1 in every 250,000 people.