Debra Astrug was struggling. She couldn’t read or drive, she worried about crossing the street to get the mail, and she couldn’t draw (…)
Astrug needed a transplant, this time of corneal stem cells from a living donor to fix her limbal stem cell deficiency, which causes the cornea to be covered with abnormal tissue. She underwent the transplant in March 2013 at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood and now has near-perfect vision with a therapeutic lens (…)
Astrug’s sister would have been an ideal candidate to donate the tissue, but she died in 2005 from stomach cancer. Next best would be her three adult children, Jessica, Lauren and Peter Astrug, all of whom were willing to donate to their mother, a widow (…)
Dr. Bouchard, who performed the surgery, removed two small pieces of tissue from Jessica’s right eye, and then went into the other operating room where he harvested additional stem cells from an eye bank cornea donor and then went to work on Debra.
“We then removed the abnormal tissue from Debra’s cornea and, using biological glue, attached the stem cells from Jessica as well as those from the eye bank cornea,” Bouchard said, noting that the procedure is uncommon but several corneal surgeons in Chicago perform such stem cell transplants (…)
Bouchard said the biggest risk for Jessica is the chance of developing stem cell deficiency in the future, but that would be rare.
The stem cell transplant restores the normal outer layer of the cornea, which is the clear part of the eye. “If there is scarring or other causes of vision loss, like macular degeneration, or glaucoma or optic nerve disease, this procedure will not help blindness from these causes,” Bouchard said (…)