Blind girl who produced own album to raise $80k: I can see flowers now

SINGAPORE - She used to only be able to see patches of colour and shadows.

Now, after two eye operations, 12-year-old Adelyn Koh can discern shapes and people from up to 6m away.

The sight which most excites her is the garden beside her five-room flat at Punggol.

"I like looking at the garden," she said. "I can see the brightly-coloured flowers on the plants, and their branches and leaves."

Her mother, Ms Mary Lim, 40, an administrator, said proudly: "When I took her to the garden before her operation, she could see patches of green, but couldn't identify anything.

"Now, she can pick out the branches, grass and bushes."

Adelyn was born with opaque corneas, or Peter's Anomaly, a rare congenital eye disease.

Her story was first reported in The New Paper in 2002, when she was nine months old and the recipient of a cornea transplant.

But the four natural corneal transplants she had in her first year failed. Adelyn made the news again last year when she and her mother came up with the idea of selling CDs of her piano compositions to raise funds for fresh eye operations.

Ms Lim, a divorcee, said she had hoped to raise the approximate amount of $80,000 needed, but was astonished when they managed it in six weeks.

"It was really a miracle," she said.

Last November, Adelyn went for an artificial corneal transplant on her right eye, followed by one on her left in May.

Both operations were successful and have so far improved her vision to 20 per cent of a normal person's, from what was considered zero despite being able to see patches.

Adelyn said it was "difficult to describe" how it felt to have her vision improved so drastically.

"I feel that feeling of excitement that you get when you're seeing something for the first time," she said.

"At the same time, I'm very interested in how different things look."

Doctors said that her vision can improve to about 30 to 40 per cent of a normal person's in the next six months.

But Ms Lim maintained that she does not want to fix a time to gauge her daughter's improvement.

"We'll just see how things go, I'm hoping it's not limited to six months. She's still young and it might improve continuously," she said.

Terrified before first operation

Ms Lim recounted that before the first operation, Adelyn was terrified and spent the whole day crying, but was in high spirits for the second one.

"She was talking and laughing all the way to the operation room," Ms Lim said. Adelyn recounted her recovery.

"At first, all I could see was really bright light scattered everywhere," she said.

"But once my eyes got used to the light, it was like a fog clearing. Slowly, images started getting clearer."

The Primary 6 pupil at Lighthouse School is like any other child. She enjoys playing pretend with her two sisters, aged six and seven, and joking with her mother.

Adelyn also loves books. She often reads Braille books and listens to audio books downloaded by her mother.

She enjoys playing the piano and listening to music as well. She said: "Without music, life would be as dull as living in a cave."

Adelyn now performs regularly at charity concerts, which Ms Lim said is their way of "giving back" to society.

Ms Lim said: "It's a way to return what people gave us when they contributed to her operations."

Her next performance is during the Music From The Heart Charity Concert 2013.

She said: "A couple of months ago, I cooked for Adelyn her favourite plate of instant noodles. Normally she just eats it, but this time, she said 'Wah mummy my whole plate is so colourful. I can finally see the vegetables and how the noodles look.'

"It was such a simple thing, but it shows how, while people like us don't appreciate the things we see daily, only people like Adelyn truly appreciate what they can see." checked

When asked what it was like to see her mother and sisters more clearly after her operation, Adelyn joked: "They won't keep still for two seconds for me to look at them properly!"

SHOW INFO

WHAT: Music from the Heart Charity Concert 2013

WHERE: School of the Arts Concert Hall, 1, Zubir Said Drive

WHEN: July 20, 3pm

TICKETS: $30 per person. Call 97619451/90092518

naqiyahs@sph.com.sg


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