Elijah Gregory's diagnosis is the same, but after attending a clinic this summer through the help of the Union community, he and his parents know a little more about what to expect from his eye disorder.
Elijah, the son of Wayne and Shannon Gregory, has been diagnosed with Lebers Congenital Amaurosis, a retinal degenerative disorder that begins in infancy and whose cause is unclear. He was a participant in the Foundation for Retinal Research Clinic in July in Cleveland, Ohio. He attended the clinic with his mother, his grandmother, Mamie Gore; and family friend Sue Keith. In conjunction with the clinic, Elijah received retinal and medical exams at the renowned Cole Eye Institute.
“Out of all the testing and exams, once the doctors got together and compiled their information, what they came up with was his diagnosis had not changed, it was the same diagnosis they had made when he was seven months old,” Mrs. Gregory said. “They said the older he has gotten, he has learned to use the sight he has.”
The family also was told that unless a cure is found, Elijah's sight will worsen as he grows older.
Elijah was given a thorough examination. Mrs. Gore and Mrs. Gregory said he didn't cry when his blood was drawn or when contact lenses with electronic sensors were placed in his eyes.
“I was a big boy about everything,” said Elijah, a student at the South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind in Spartanburg who turned four years-old on June 29.
Elijah also was allowed to meet the pilot on his Continental Airlines flight and got his wings. Those attending the clinic also were given free passes to the Cleveland Zoo and a Cleveland Indians baseball game.
Elijah and his family attended several classes during the clinic, learning more about mobility and everyday skills.
“It was very enjoyable,” Mrs. Gore said. “We talked to a lot of people who have children with this disability. “We were the only ones from the state of South Carolina. We met people from four different countries.”
The family was given contact information for other people in the area who have been diagnosed with LCA.
The Foundation for Retinal Research conducts clinics every other year. Mrs. Gore and Mrs. Gregory said they hope they can return with Elijah to another clinic in 2010. They hope by then more will be known about finding a cure for LCA. A promising new drug currently is being tested on canines.
The family conducted a drive to raise the money necessary for them to attend the clinic. They said they wanted people to know the money was much appreciated and went for a good cause.
“We thank God for the people who have helped us and supported us,” Mrs. Gore said. "We thank God for our family in Union.”