By Emily Tait
Former model Katie Piper has revealed how pioneering stem cell surgery helped her to regain sight in her left eye after it was badly damaged in a 2008 attack.
The incident occurred when her former boyfriend arranged for an accomplice to throw acid in her face following their separation, which resulted in her suffering third degree burns and having to undergo reconstructive surgery.
Her sight was badly damaged in the operation, but she was offered hope by doctors at the Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead, West Sussex, who used eye tissue from the cornea of an anonymous male donor to carry out the stem cell procedure.
After three weeks, the cells grew in situ and were then stitched into her left eye, which was then covered by amniotic membrane while it recovered.
Katie said it was an "amazing feeling" to finally be able to see clearly with both eyes again, even though it took time for the benefits of the procedure to become evident.
"It wasn't like I took the bandage off and my sight came back like that, it happened gradually. But after three weeks I started to see results. I'd seen a lot of progress with my scars, but my sight was the one injury I'd say to myself was permanent and least expected to change. I do feel like I'm winning," she told the Sunday Times.
The surgical team at Queen Victoria Hospital was led by Sheraz Daya, who has successfully carried out the procedure on 60 patients and said it gives hope to people all over the planet who have lost their sight.
"Our goal is to make sure the cornea heals. The best part of it is that it begins to clear and sight is restored," the expert explained.
Katie's story will be told in the TV programme Katie: The Science of Seeing Again, which is set to be screened on Channel 4 on Thursday night (February 9th).
by Martin Burns