James O'Brien was blind in his right eye from the age of 18 following an assault in a London suburb by a boy who sprayed ammonia on his face.
Today, at the age of 44, he is the first patient to regain sight thanks to a pioneering treatment by the British National Health Service, based on stem cells of the healthy eye, and has recovered his sight.
Returning to see from both eyes after all this time means everything to me. I was able to see my wife and children clearly for the first time.
The doctors of the Moorfields Eye Hospital in London removed the damaged tissue from James' right eye and sprayed him with the cells grown in the laboratory. After a few months of recovery, a donor retina was added (soon it will also be possible to do without donors).
A bad assault
James O'Brien's acid attack occurred in the 90s: for no reason or cause, James and a friend were joined by a person who sprayed ammonia on them.
The acid ended up in James's eyes, nostrils and mouth.
Fortunately, the rescue of a passer-by and abundant water saved at least the left eye: a fundamental circumstance, which 25 years later allowed James to regain the sight of both eyes.
James actually agreed to be a guinea pig for this treatment. The success gives all patients a new perspective. It will have a huge impact on their lives.Sajjad Ahmad, surgeon and ophthalmic consultant
The innovative technique that restored sight to the English patient was carried out within the National Health Service by the surgeon and ophthalmic consultant Dr. Sajjad Ahmad, at a total cost of over 100.000 euros.