Last month, 2-year-old Nicolly Pereira, who was born blind and thought to be deaf, gazed into her mother’s eyes for the first time.
The precious moment came after a life-changing surgery that brought a smile to the Brazilian girl’s face as she pressed her forehead against her mother’s.
“The only word that can be used to describe the feeling is ‘God,’ ” Nicolly’s mother, Daiana Pereira, 26, told the Miami Herald. “[My daughter] has now become a reference for people who didn t believe in miracles.”
Nicolly was born with pediatric glaucoma, a rare condition that causes fluid to build up in the eye and distort vision, often leading to blindness. After a series of failed surgeries in her home country of Brazil, Pereira shared her family’s struggle on Facebook.
The young mother’s story went viral, leading a reader from Miami to contact two local organizations that raised more than $17,000 to pay for a surgery at Miami’s Bascom Palmer Eye Institute. Nicolly’s vision was restored after a three-hour surgery on March 17.
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“I loved the feeling of first seeing her mom’s face. That just moved me so much,” Alana Grajewski, the doctor who performed the surgery, told the Herald. “Then all of a sudden, she realized: ‘Oh my gosh, that’s my mom.’ And her mother could tell the recognition. It was just one of those moments – priceless.”
Prior to her trip to the U.S., Nicolly was thought to be blind, deaf and developmentally disabled. However, doctors from the University of Miami discovered that she simply had water buildup in her inner ears. The same day her vision was restored, doctors drained the water from her ears. She can now see, hear and even sing.
This incredible transformation was made possible by the work and generosity of many in the Miami community. A 10-year-old boy donated his prize from a youth auto racing league to cover the mother and daughter’s airfare and Carlos and Maria Fiallo, a couple who lost their 17-year-old son in a car crash, raised $15,000 for the surgery costs.
“I had to do it. I had to help that little girl,” Maria Fiallo said. “We lost Kevin very early, too soon. But now I see my son’s light in her eyes.”