Owen Brandt is a bright-eyed and fearless 2-year-old so when the active little guy passed out a few times, his parents brought him to Akron Children’s Hospital for evaluation. During a 6-hour appointment at the Infusion Center for blood draws and testing, another condition came into focus – his eyes.
“It was a long visit, but our nurse, Justin Wood, was wonderful with Owen, talking and being playful with him to help keep him calm,” said Samantha Brandt, Owen’s mom. “While interacting with him, Justin noticed Owen’s pupils were different sizes … he thought it was something we should check out so he asked a nurse practitioner to take a look and she agreed.”
Within 6 days of Justin’s observation, Owen met with multiple Akron Children’s Hospital Vision Center specialists and underwent surgery to help save his sight.
Vision Center specialists
Pediatric ophthalmologist, Palak Wall, MD diagnosed Owen with infantile glaucoma, a rare condition that damages the eye’s optic nerve and gets worse over time. When kids have glaucoma, vision loss usually happens more quickly and is often more severe than adults with glaucoma.
Understanding that quick action was needed to preserve Owen’s eyesight, his family met with the Vision Center team to learn more about the condition and treatment options.
“We were lucky to have the resources and people we needed to treat Owen’s eye so close to home,” added Samantha.
Richard Hertle, MD, FAAO, FACS, FAAP performed surgery on Owen’s left eye to stop the condition’s progression. While the surgery was successful, Owen’s glaucoma had already caused some permanent peripheral vision loss.
“Owen now has follow-up appointments with Dr. Hanna and she’s also monitoring my other two kids in case the condition is genetic,” said Samantha. “We recently found out his eyesight is getting worse so he will need another surgery…thankfully we know about his condition so we can do something about it.”
While Owen’s medical journey with his blood sugar levels is still being evaluated, the family is grateful for the attention and action Justin took to help Owen’s vision.
“I am so unbelievably thankful to Justin that he caught this. Owen’s condition is aggressive but since we were able to take action quickly, Owen will only need glasses versus having complete vision loss in his left eye,” said Samantha. “Justin noticing and taking action on a simple observation is life-changing for my son.”
Justin is humbled by the experience and continues to put the focus on Owen and his family.
“I’m glad I was able to help Owen, but it’s really everyone who looks after him and his care – nurses, doctors, surgeons and parents who are the real superstars,” said Justin Wood, registered nurse at Akron Children’s. “I think caring for kids is a really important piece to helping our society so I’m thankful I have a job where I’m able to make a positive difference in their lives.”