A roof over your head, food on the table and good company are a few staples people are thankful for over the holidays, but something as simple as watching the sunset may be taken for granted.
At the tender age of 19, Pitman High graduate Shane Lopes is now legally blind.
Lopes has what’s called Optical Nerve Atrophy/Neuropathy which, according to his mother Kristin Lopes, means that his optical nerves are hardening and damaged, therefore not allowing the proper amount of blood to flow to the eye causing a severe change in visual function.
“We saw numerous doctors,” said Kristin Lopes. “They all told us, ‘No treatment, no cure.’”
Shane recently received news that he was accepted into a stem cell clinic in Florida where he will undergo a new treatment, Stem Cell Ophthalmology Treatment Study.
“My brother was diagnosed with something similar and admitted to the same clinic. Due to the hereditary background between my brother and my son, Shane was accepted as well,” said Kristin Lopes.
Shane’s parents, Jeff and Kristin Lopes are reaching out to their friends, family and community for help.
“Between the costly pre and post op visits, the patient funded $30,000 procedure and trips back and forth to Florida, we’re afraid it will be hard to make ends meet,” said Kristin Lopes.
They have started a GoFundMe page, which is a crowd funding online platform that allows people to fundraise money for a cause.
“Thirty thousand dollars is a lot of money that we don’t have,” said Kristin Lopes. “But we feel so strongly that this is the answer to our prayers that we had to reach out to the community and ask for help.”
Shane’s character and remarkable attitude through the process reminds those who meet him to be thankful..
Kristin Lopes explained that her son doesn’t just want the procedure for himself, but that he is undergoing the procedure for stem cell research so that there will be a point where everyone who is suffering from optic nerve damage may have this treatment readily available.
“We understand it’s near the holidays and if you are unable to donate all we ask is that you share the page to get the word out and say a prayer,” said Kristin Lopes. “We will find a way because we cannot pass up this opportunity for our son.”
The GoFundMe link to donate for Shane is gofundme.com/hqau8w48; he is scheduled to start treatment Jan. 5, 2016.
“It’s a very emotional time for us and Shane has gone through so much that I want this for him more than anything,” said Kristin Lopes. “He deserves to see the world.”