Had some parents known about his condition before he was born, they may had considered an abortion. But little 3-month-old Richie Lopez’s parents had no idea that their son would be born without eyes.
Routine ultrasound scans performed during pregnancy show no problems and Richie’s parents had no idea anything was wrong until hours after birth when he just wouldn’t open his eyes. Staff at Banner Desert Medical Center in Mesa, Arizona initially thought Richie’s head had swollen and that was why he wouldn’t open his eyes.
Days later, they knew something was wrong.
“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?”
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.”