Story of Healing
East Carroll Parish
When Allison Tatum of Lake Providence, Louisiana noticed her four-month-old baby’s, left eye was cloudy, she wasn’t all that surprised. Her husband had cataracts at an early age, so it was a condition that could be passed on, but out of their four children, Mary, the youngest, is the only one who shares this condition with her father. Since Mary’s birth, the Tatums always watched their daughter’s eyes for signs of pediatric cataracts. Immediately after birth and at two months, Mary’s doctors checked her eyes and they were clear, but Allison was the one who caught the cloudiness in Mary’s left eye at four months old.
“We took her to the eye doctor in Monroe and he thought she would need surgery,” shared Allison. “That doctor didn’t do eye surgery on babies, so he referred us to Dr. George Ellis at Children’s in New Orleans.”
The Tatums drove their baby girl the four hours to New Orleans, and after an exam, Dr. Ellis confirmed that baby Mary would need surgery. At five months old, Mary underwent her first eye surgery to remove the cataract from her left eye. She would go on to return to Children’s Hospital New Orleans for two subsequent procedures to remove scar tissue at nine and 18 months. “Dr. Ellis was gentle, calm, and patient,” remembered Allison.
At age 13, Mary would return to Children’s Hospital once again to have surgery on her left eye, which became weaker than her right. Because she’s grown up having eye exams and procedures all her life, she’s a pro, according to Allison. Now at 14, Mary now has a cataract on her right eye, but for now, she doesn’t need surgery. With her glasses and with daily eye drops to dilate her eyes, she can see.
“She’s very outgoing and has so many friends. She cheers, and plays basketball, softball, and tennis,” said Allison. “It still surprises us how good she is at softball and tennis, because so much of the game is hand-eye coordination.
Mary’s future is looking bright. Her ultimate goal is to switch from glasses to contacts, which according to Dr. Ellis, is possible, likely with one more eye surgery as an adult.
Click here to learn more about Ophthalmology at Children’s Hospital New Orleans.