HONG KONG–A 6-year-old Chinese boy who had his eyes gouged out by a woman believed to be his aunt may one day see again after a Hong Kong hospital offered him “electronic eyes.” Hong Kong-based eye expert Dennis Lam said his team would provide the treatment for free to Guo Bin — popularly known as Bin-Bin — who was found covered in blood near his home in the northern Chinese province of Shanxi last month after the horrific attack.
Lam told AFP that future technology could restore up to 40 percent of the boy’s lost vision.
“When I heard about it. I was really angry, very upset. I was asking myself if I can help,” Lam told AFP.
“Being an eye doctor, our greatest sort of encouragement is when the patients see again,” he said. Lam said that he is still waiting for consent from the child’s parents to bring him to his eye hospital in Shenzhen in southern China, where he can be given a pair of false eyes as soon as next week.
A camera would process images and relay a signal to a grid of electrodes attached to the boy’s tongue eventually teaching the brain to ‘see’ again. He added that the technology is already being used in Japan and Europe. The final goal is to give the boy bionic eyes linked directly to the brain which will help him partially regain his sight, Lam said, a treatment which is still being developed.
“In the high end it (his sight) could be 20 to 40 percent when we talk about ten years down the road. It’s a wild guess. The ultimate goal is to help him to see again.” Hong Kong’s Cable TV said the boy’s parents were considering the offer. The little boy went missing after playing outside and his eyes were found nearby. Authorities have now made his aunt, who committed suicide on Friday, their prime suspect, state news agency Xinhua said, quoting local police. The aunt, who Xinhua named as Zhang Huiying, killed herself by jumping into a village well. Xinhua said police found the boy’s blood on his aunt’s clothes following DNA tests. Her younger brother, Zhang Ruihua, denied reports of a family row over caring for the boy’s grandfather. Everyone had agreed to share the cost, he told the Beijing News. “There was no dispute,” he said, adding that it was hard to accept his own sister being considered as a suspect. Lam’s medical team visited Guo, who is currently being treated in Shanxi, on Saturday.
“He seemed cheerful given that he has gone through so much. He is a very brave boy,” team member Dr Fairooz P. Manjandavida told the South China Morning Post. Although initial reports suggested that his corneas were missing, prompting speculation that he had been attacked for organ sales, Chinese authorities have ruled that out, claiming that the corneas were still attached. The attack has shocked the nation and has stirred fury on the Internet with netizens demanding retribution.
Adding confusion to the situation, however, Chinese state media reported Wednesday that a local hospital in Shanxi province will provide Guo with artificial eyes. Xinhua cited Jia Yading, the director of Shanxi Eye Hospital, as saying Guo’s eyelids have healed and that the hospital will implant the prosthetic eyes in a month. “The artificial eyes cannot restore his sight,” Jia said, according to Xinhua, which identified her as head of the therapeutic team responsible for his treatment. No one who could comment on the report was available at the hospital late Wednesday.