The parents of a little boy born with no eyes have told of their joy that their son has made enough progress to start pre-school.
Little Jacob Nowak, who celebrates his third birthday tomorrow, was born with a rare condition called anophthalmia, that left him without eyeballs or optic nerves and facing six years of surgery.
His parents Mariusz and Wiola had feared that Jacob, from Millstreet in Cork, would have no quality of life after discovering there was no funding available from the HSE to cover his €300,000 medical bills.
However, an overwhelming response from the public has transformed his life and allowed him to travel to Germany every three months for vital treatment.
To date he has visited Germany eight times, where specialists have routinely fitted prosthetic eyes and socket extenders into his head, allowing his face and skull to develop properly.
Next month Jacob will hit another huge milestone when he starts his pre-school year, under the watch of a specially-assigned care specialist, at a mainstream montessori in Millstreet.
The Nowaks, who also have a daughter, Paula, 8, said that although it would be the first time their son had been away from them, it would be a significant step in fulfilling their dream of seeing him one day leading an independent life.
Mariusz said: “It’s a very important stage in Jacob’s life. He’s been doing very well and is now walking and is even able to get up and down the stairs at home.
“And his speech is coming on pretty well. It’s not quite as developed as other children his age, because he’s relying purely on sound to learn and we can’t show him things.
“But he’s repeating words well.
“But we still dream of seeing him hopefully having an independent life one day. And after he begins pre-school, he’ll be able to start mixing and playing with other children.
“He’ll also be looked after by a lady, who has experience with blind children. So we’re very happy.”
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