Colton Schoonover's story is one of intense pain and extreme ups and downs. It was Independence Day 2004, and 11-year-old Colton had spent his birthday money on fireworks. One moment he bent down to place some firecrackers on the ground, the next moment the unthinkable happened. Colton's mom Shanna Schoonover recalls, "Somebody else's hit him right in the eye. We rushed him to the hospital. The first doctor that saw him said this is real bad. It's real bad."
A direct blast from a large roman candle instantly created an intense thermal burn to the surface of Colton's eye and the lids themselves. Shanna explains, "The cornea, all of it was burnt all across his eye. He's had five surgeries. The epithelial lining is burnt. Until February or March, we didn't know what his chances were."
Colton's miracle began at University Medical Center where doctor's first removed plastic and gun powder from his eye. Dr. David McCartney is Colton's primary physician. He explains, "You have to patch the eye almost like a tire so it can hold a certain inflation pressure and that's really what's been going on with him the past eight months."
Dr. McCartney specializes in corneal surgery and has provided much of Colton's care at UMC. When you ask Colton what Dr. McCartney is like, he says, "He's tall, and he always has cold hands." Colton admits those hands may be cold, but they've done a lot of good for him.
Colton has been through two corneal transplants, stem cell procedures and a transplant of the mucous membrane from his mouth to his eye. Which doctors miraculously were able to preserve. Colton's mom says, "One day we went to the doctor and Dr. McCartney was looking at Colton's eye. He turned around and said this is a great day and that's when he noticed more coverage of the cornea and he saw more blood vessels and that was amazing." Colton says of his doctors, "I'm just glad they're there to help. I'm glad for Dr. McCartney because he does a lot. He does some surgeries that are not even done in Lubbock."
Now that Colton's eye itself has been preserved, it's time to think about the ultimate goal of restoring vision. Dr. McCartney looks to the future and says, "We're looking at restorative surgery where we'll separate the eyelids by surgery , cut down to the surface of the eyeball itself, and then restore the front surface of that eye."
Colton, whose new nickname is the Terminator because of the protective glasses he wears, is back in school full-time. Beyond barely percieving light in his right eye, he's just like any other kid his age. When asked what he's hoping for, Colton says, "Just to get done with it and no more surgeries or medicine or anything. Get back to normal life and play football."
Dr. McCartney says, "I think CMN has really helped him in one critical way. Not only has it provided funding that gives an amazing array of equipment for eye use that allows us to care for him, but it has done something else for him. It has lifted his sprits by involvement in CMN. It has pulled him out of a post injury depression common among these children."
Shanna can't speak highly enough of Colton's doctors and the care he has recieve right here in Lubbock. She explains, "Colton has the best doctors I feel could be offered anywhere. Without CMN, I don't know where we would be because they've made it possible for us to stay home." That's why Colton urges everyone to donate to this year's CMN telethon. He says, "It's important for everyone. If every person in the United States donated a dollar, it'd be a lot of money for children to get what they need."
Colton's eye will need one or two years to "rest" and heal, then doctor's will perform surgury and attempt to restore Colton's vision.
|2005 Children's Miracle Network Telethon|