Blind American woman regains sight after fall and neck surgery

More than two decades after Ms Franco became blind following a car accident, she fell at her home in Florida, hitting her head. The subsequent operation seems to have led to the recovery of her sight.
More than two decades after Ms Franco became blind following a car accident, she fell at her home in Florida, hitting her head. The subsequent operation seems to have led to the recovery of her sight.PHOTO: WPBF 25 NEWS

LONDON • A blind American woman has regained her sight after falling over and hitting her head at her home in Florida.

Ms Mary Ann Franco, 70, gradually became blind after injuring her spine in a car accident in 1993, Britain's The Independent reported.

More than two decades later, the accident at her home and a subsequent operation appear to have led to the recovery of her sight, baffling doctors.

"I was fully blind - all I could see was blackness," she told The Independent. "I was in my living room, going over to the door. My foot caught on a tile, and it flipped me. I hit my head in the back and hit it on something else, maybe the fireplace," she said.

The fall occurred last August and Ms Franco was incapacitated until an operation a few weeks ago.

She was in hospital recovering from four hours of surgery on her neck when she came round from the anaesthetic and realised that her sight had returned.

However, in her confused state, she did not realise what had happened straightaway.

"I looked towards the foot of my bed and said, 'Hey, lady in purple, get me something for pain'. I was in so much pain, I wasn't nice - and I'm always nice," she said.

"My niece said: 'What did you say?' and I realised I could see," said Ms Franco. "They gave me more medication and, the next morning, I could see all the trees, and white houses below from my small window on my side in hospital.

"I was the happiest woman in the whole world. It was wonderful. Everyone came in and said: 'You're the miracle lady'."

Neurosurgeon John Afshar, who performed the operation, told ABC News that he had not expected Ms Franco's vision to be affected.

"The restoration of Mary Ann Franco's vision is a true miracle," he said. "I really don't have a scientific explanation for it."

He said one theory was that the car accident could have affected an artery and restricted blood flow to the part of the brain which controls vision.

The recent operation could have unblocked the artery, re-establishing blood flow, he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 09, 2016, with the headline 'Blind woman regains sight after fall and neck surgery'. Print Edition | Subscribe