Levi’s Story

Posted on 2016-05-05

When Levi was just about 2 1/2 years old he had what was thought to be a typical toddler accident. This accident was not so typical—it may have saved his life! 

One day in June 2015, Levi accidentally ran into the side of a table and bruised his eye. Sabrina, Levi’s mother, was very concerned about how his eye was healing and watched him closely. During the next few days, Sabrina took many photos of Levi. What concerned her more than the bruising was a strange glow in his eye that kept appearing within the photos. Sabrina could even see this glow with her own eyes in certain lights. She started an Internet search about the glow and soon discovered a glow in flash photography could be an indicator of several different eye conditions. She was now determined to discover the reason for Levi’s glow and rushed him to an optometrist. 

The optometrist noticed something floating in Levi’s eye and sent them to Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston for an appointment the very next day. There, they met with Dr. Dan Gombos and his team.  An ultrasound and an MRI showed two masses in Levi’s left eye. After an examination under anesthesia (EUA), Levi was diagnosed with stage D unilateral Retinoblastoma. Dr. Gombos explained that because of Levi’s accident, the tumor had broken off and floated into the jelly of his eye. In other words, the tumor had been hidden but became visible after the accident. Because Levi still had central vision, doctors tried intro-arterial chemotherapy to shrink the tumor and save his eye. However, after two rounds of chemotherapy, the tumor and seeding continued to grow.  The best solution was to remove Levi’s eye.

Levi has been in remission since his enucleation in August 2015. His parents and doctors were also relieved to learn that Levi does not have the RB1 gene. Levi is carefully monitored with MRIs and EUAs every three months to make sure there are no reoccurring cancer cells.

Levi is now three years old and doing amazing! He has adjusted very well to his prosthetic and protective glasses. He loves participating in anything athletic. He especially loves to spend time outdoors and is a huge fan of all superheroes. Levi’s biggest superhero is his mom, Sabrina, who was determined to discover the reason for his Glow and protect his health. She is now determined to spread awareness of the Glow and help protect the health of other children in a similar situation. She truly is a living superhero!

Story Update: “Levi is doing great! He just signed as a member of the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders baseball team through a program called Team Impact. He plays basketball and soccer and is learning to read. This past summer he actually was moved to yearly check ups. We did have a set back last May that landed him in the hospital for a few days. He had an infection in his left eye socket and his prosthetic couldn’t be put in at all. So he was admitted and put on IV antibiotics. We’re grateful the infection didn’t spread to the brain or blood stream. Other than that he’s been wonderful and is really adjusting physically to having one eye.”

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