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UAB Saves Vision for Kayleigh Bolding

Kayleigh Bolding was excited about Valentine’s Day in 2016. She was in the third-grade at Greenville Elementary School and her class was not only throwing a Valentine’s party, but she was also receiving a laptop as a Valentine’s Day gift from her grandmother, Joyce Oswald, and father, James Bolding. Just before dusk a few days prior to the holiday, the family made the drive to pick up Kayleigh’s laptop. They were traveling on a county road when their car was struck by a deer.

James was driving, Joyce was in the passenger seat, and Kayleigh was in the backseat—which is where the deer made impact with the vehicle. James and Joyce jumped out of the car to check on Kayleigh. Glass was everywhere, but Kayleigh‘s only apparent injuries were a few bruises and a cut on her head that was mended with stitches at the local emergency room in Greenville. She was about to be released when Joyce Oswald noticed something odd about her granddaughter’s right eye.

“We were all so shaken up from the wreck and were relieved when they told us Kayleigh was alright and we could go home,” Joyce says. “But when I leaned down to look at her, something wasn’t right with her eye. The closer I got to her I could see there was something in her pupil. It was glass. The doctor came back in and said we needed to be seen at UAB Callahan Eye Hospital in Birmingham.”

Emergency services transported Kayleigh to Birmingham, AL where she was immediately seen by staff and her surgeon, Martin Thomley, MD, Associate Professor in the Department of Ophthalmology. Thomley determined that Kayleigh needed emergency surgery.

“Kayleigh came to Callahan Eye Hospital at the right time,” says Dr. Thomley. “If this injury had been missed and she had gone home, numerous complications could have occurred. The worst case scenario is Kayleigh could have lost vision in that eye.”

After the surgery, Kayleigh recalls seeing a stuffed animal next to her in the recovery room. The stuffed animal, which Kayleigh named Mr. Monkey, was a gift from the care team at UAB Callahan Eye Hospital. Kayleigh had a patch on her eye and an IV in her arm, as did Mr. Monkey. The doctors and nurses told Kayleigh that the procedure went well and the glass was removed, and that Mr. Monkey had undergone the same procedure so they could recover together.

“I thought she would lose her vision in that eye,” Joyce says. “But I knew from the moment we got to Callahan that Kayleigh was in good hands. The doctors, nurses, and staff were so kind to her, and coached her through the surgery. She was frightened, but the entire care team was so attentive to her needs.”

Kayleigh and her family returned to Callahan Eye Hospital a few times after the surgery for follow-up appointments over the coming months to check on the stitches in her eye, at which time she received another stuffed animal, Mrs. Monkey. Kayleigh now has 20/20 vision in the eye her grandmother once thought would be permanently impaired. She is now in the fourth grade, enjoys science class, and excels as an A/B honor roll student.