Man recovering after vision-saving surgery

William Fleming is still in a bit of shock over the fact that he was able to get surgery recently to save his sight thanks to the power of social media.
November 27, 2013 8:25:31 PM PST
ABC7 News Anchor Cheryl Jennings went back to visit William Fleming, who had successful eye surgery in Los Angeles just a few days ago, to see how his life is changing.

"I can see everything, I can read everything, actually it's just like amazing," Fleming said.

Fleming is still in a bit of shock over the fact that he was able to get surgery recently to save his sight thanks to the power of social media. ABC7 News wanted to see how the father with five children is doing now that he's back home in San Jose.

"It opens millions of opportunities for me," Fleming said. "Back to driving, just moving around, going to see my family and being with my kids... just to go grocery shopping by myself, and not look at things 15 times and realize this is cereal."

Fleming went to Los Angeles for the surgery at the office of Dr. Brian Boxer Wachler. The doctor specializes in the treatment of keratoconus, a degenerative eye disease in which the cornea bulges out in a cone shape.

There were a couple of procedures, including inserting special lenses under his corneas. The surgeries cost $18,000 -- money the family didn't have and insurance doesn't cover it. That's where the power of social media came into the picture.

Fleming fianc?e Nina Baca learned about Dr. Brian's work on the Internet and started a fundraising campaign but it wasn't successful. Nina's mother Desiree Martin messaged me on Facebook and after several conversations I sent out a tweet asking for help. To our surprise, someone said they would help.

Fleming's life started changing the moment he sat up on the operating table. He gets emotional re-living that moment.

"I looked around the room, through the window, there was Nina, everything was just so vibrant and so bright," he said.

"Just when he looked at me and was able to smile and he was laughing, I knew it, that he could see me so much better," Baca said. "On the way home, he was reading the signs off the side of the freeway, and reading the license plates to me."

Fleming is an in-home caregiver for Baca's brother Bo, who has cerebral palsy. Bo and the family wanted to share a sign made by the children -- a beautiful message to the anonymous donor and Dr. Brian that says "Thank you for saving my daddy's sight!"

"I wish I knew the person and was able to invite them over for Thanksgiving and say, come sit with us," Martin said.

"I thank you so much, you helped by putting it out there; the donor who donated, I wish we could thank that person, whoever it is," Baca said.

"You gave me my gift before Christmas and I thank you," Fleming said. "You gave me the gift of sight, which is a beautiful thing. You're my blessing. You're the reason I'm seeing my kids, being with my family and just being able to live."


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