Katie Piper

Katie Piper
23 Sep 2013

Watch how Centre for Sight helped to restore Katie Piper's vision

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Katie Piper: I’ve had 110 ops... but this is the one that has changed my life

Surgeon Sheraz Daya says:

Katie’s attack left her with the condition Aniridia, where there is no iris in the eye.

A layer of tissue that acts to protect the cornea grows abnormally on its surface. This results in pain, poor vision and the blood vessels grow into the eye, making it red.

I first performed this type of stem-cell procedure back in 1999 and now around 60 patients have had the treatment. Limbal tissue – where the white coat of the eye meets the clear cornea – is removed from a donor eye. These cells are then multiplied in a laboratory.

First I had to remove all the abnormal cells in Katie’s eyes – the scarring and blood vessels which had grown on the surface of her eye.

The stem cells were then transferred. We have to cover the new cells with a piece of tissue membrane which is taken from the lining of a woman’s womb.

Since her procedure, Katie’s cornea is cleared considerably and she has had an improvement in her sight.

Originally featured in the Sun Newspaper, published: 7th February 2012, Edited by Sally Brook

“I’ve had plenty of operations since the attack — 110 now in fact. But I never thought I’d be able to do anything about my sight.

When the doctor says you’re blind, you just accept it. I didn’t think it was something that could be fixed.

The acid burned my left eye and I could see light and dark, that was it.

It worried me because I thought that if anything did happen to my good eye, I’d never see again.

I was at my mum and dad’s house when I saw my surgeon, Mr Sheraz Daya, on the telly — he wasn’t my surgeon at the time but I watched him carry out surgery on both eyes of a man.

I couldn’t help but think ‘What if he can help me?’

I tracked Mr Daya down at his London office. I had a consultation and he told me I was suitable for surgery.

My eye was quite badly damaged so I wasn’t sure we’d be able to go ahead. When he said yes, I was thrilled.

The surgery was carried out in November.They took donor stem cells from the cornea of an anonymous male donor.

This is the first operation I’ve had on my blind eye. I didn’t envisage getting the results I’ve had so rapidly. The appearance of the eye has changed. The redness has gone and my pupil is back.

When I came round I was bandaged and my eyelids were stitched closed. I had to have the bandage on for a whole week. I hadto have antibiotics and steroid drops. There are also drops made from my own blood. I have to keep them in my freezer, so I do wonder what someone would think if they looked in there! It helps the new cells to grow.

I’m trying to keep healthy. I’m not drinking alcohol, I’m trying to eat healthily to give the cells the best nutrition.

When the bandage finally came off, it’s not a case of you suddenly being able to see. But gradually, day after day, it’s improved. Now I can see movement and the features on a face. I can judge depth.

Before, if I tried to put my mobile phone down on the table I’d just drop it on the floor. Now, for the first time since the attack, I’m getting it right.

It’s making a huge difference to my life. I’m more independent.

I’m working again and I live on my own. I can’t read or write but it’s only been three months. I’m hoping the improvements will continue.

Mr Daya has spoken to me about having future procedures with him. I haven’t decided what I’ll do, I have to take one step at a time.

I certainly wouldn’t want any unnecessary surgery. It’s not that I feel the surgery has taken a toll on my body, but I’d like to put the hospital part of my life behind me.

I’ve not seen like this since before the attack. I can’t wear make up on my bad eye so I’ve bought some pretty eye patches.

"I wanted to define it, I didn’t want it to define me.

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