ELMWOOD PARK, N.J. (CBS 2) — The miracle of sight has been restored to those who otherwise couldn’t afford it thanks to the kindness of some surgeons in New Jersey. For several Tri-State residents, their life begins anew.
Sonja Del Toro, of the Bronx, is celebrating a new beginning. She suffers from diabetes and the cataract in her right eye has worsened. So she came to the River Drive Surgery and Laser Center in Elmwood Park for free surgery to regain her sight.
“I love to read, so I can’t read books right now, so I want my life back together again,” she told CBS 2’s Mark Morgan.
Dr. Cary Silverman founded “Vision Harvest,” a program that donates the eye surgery to unemployed and uninsured patients. It is a service which would normally cost up to $3,000 to $4,000 per eye.
“These patients are between a rock and a hard place. They’ve been trying to go through the system to get surgery, and they’ve gotten nowhere,” Silverman said.
Vision Harvest is in its third year and the number of patients has grown from roughly 15 the first year to over 40 this year.
Warren Baroojtian, of Orange County, was legally blind when he had one eye repaired a year ago, and was back Friday for an operation on his other eye. Now, he’s ready to return to the craft he loves — cabinet making.
“I lost my profession completely, and then even with one eye, still wasn’t good. I mean, you didn’t have the depth, so I couldn’t operate a table saw. Now, I’m going back to work,” Baroojtian said.
And for Del Toro, her new life begins Friday — on her 62nd birthday.
“That would be the biggest gift of my life — to bring back my vision,” she said.
It’s a day the patients will remember for the rest of their lives. Some patients came from as far away as Nevada, Florida, Tennessee and Virginia to take advantage of the free services on Friday. It’s a day the patients will remember for the rest of their lives.
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