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Patient Needed Corneal Transplant After Shoddy LASIK Sugery

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The story of Patrick Sheahan, who required a corneal transplant due to botched LASIK surgery, is just one example of the devastating injuries that can occur with this procedure. Prior to his LASIK procedure, Patrick’s vision problems were so mild, he hardly needed glasses.  But the then 23-year-old hoped improved vision would help further his law enforcement career. When Patrick—a street police officer—went in for a consultation at LASIKPlus they said he was a perfect candidate.  But not long after the procedure, Patrick’s left eye began to deteriorate until all he could see out of it was light; he experienced daily dizzy spells and migraine headaches. Patrick began taking painkillers and consulted with his optometrist who told him his left cornea was severely damaged and misshapen.

When Patrick Sheahan realized something had gone wrong with his procedure, he made an appointment with Dr. Gerald Horn of LASIKPlus, the man who performed the botched LASIK surgery. Horn kept Patrick and his grandfather waiting an unbelievable five hours before finally examining Patrick and admitting to a major complication. Horn blamed the laser, saying there may have been a malfunction and there was nothing further he could do. In addition to shoddy surgical work, Horn was extremely rude to Patrick and his grandfather, rushing the two men out before answering their questions, saying he had a meeting to attend and if they had more questions, they would have to make another appointment to see him. Horn offered no options for vision correction and no sympathy toward his now-blind patient.

After consulting with many corneal experts, the conclusion was that Patrick—now blind in one eye—needed a corneal transplant. Corneal transplants involve cutting the cornea out of the eye and replacing it with a donor cornea. The surgery involves dozens of stitches—30 for Patrick who received his transplant in July 2003. Also, optical stitch removal is tedious; can take many visits; and can only be done a few at a time, when the stitch loosens, and with a needle-like instrument while the patient is conscious.

Patrick paid $18,000 dollars for the transplant and additional $4,000 for a follow-up lens implant in 2005. Patrick’s doctors expect that Patrick will have to undergo many other future procedures and warn that his cornea can reject at any time. Patrick has lost nearly two years of income, his entire savings, and his position as a street officer; he will never be able to work in the same capacity due to his vision problems.

Unfortunately, Patrick’s story is far from isolated. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received 140 reports of LASIK-related problems between 1998 and 2006, representing just a sampling of what has gone wrong with LASIK. Although the FDA is finally reviewing complaints from LASIK patients who have suffered from a variety of issues, including blurred vision and dry eyes, its actions come too late for Patrick and many others who suffer from irreversible eye damage.

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