Five-Year-Old Girl With Rare 'Silver' Eyes Has Them Removed
Primrose Austin was left in agony after suffering a build-up of pressure and a retinal detachment in one eye while the other shrank to half its size, forcing surgeons to remove the optic tissue from both.
When parents Chris and Eryn, 34 and 35, from Buford, Georgia, adopted the toddler from a Chinese orphanage three years ago in 2016, they were told she was blind due to untreated congenital glaucoma, which had caused her eyes to cloud over, and that she was potentially deaf.
And back at home in the States, medical tests revealed she had 6p25 deletion syndrome which caused her eye complications, unique brain structure, lack of muscle tone and other conditions.
After Primrose woke up in 'crisis' eight months ago, 11 specialists were baffled by what was causing her agony.
The pain was so intense that she cried for 16 hours a day and refused any food or water - before an MRI revealed the extent of the damage to her eyes.
But incredibly, since her eyes were removed the youngster has made a miraculous recovery, starting to walk again and even learning a touch-based form of sign language to communicate.
"It was like living in a constant nightmare, not knowing whether she would be ok," said Eryn, a full-time carer for her daughter. "Doctors tried to eliminate her source of pain one by one, we were at the point where they had worked through most of the causes."
She continued: "It was an excruciating experience for us all, she was drenched in sweat, her body was dealing with such intense pain and her nervous system was going nuts.
"She was hurting herself by not eating or drinking, I had to forced liquids into her mouth with a syringe to keep her hydrated.
"I was a heart-breaking decision to have her eyes removed but was 100 per cent the right thing to do, we never imagined two weeks later how much she would have progressed.
"It was a miracle, two days after she was standing up for the first time in months, was smiling and has made progress in other areas.
"It's like a whole new world is coming and it feels really good and positive, we think we will see a lot of changes in her.
"Teaching the world, she is worthy is the hardest part, as we are a society obsessed with perfection.
"Kids call her a 'monster' and run away screaming and crying. But she is beautiful even with her eyes looking different."
The family first saw a picture of Primrose in 2014, and her 'striking silver' eyes called out to them. After two years they were able to take her home, where they would need to teach her to sit-up, hold her head and feed with a bottle.
US medical teams detected her unique syndrome, and also discovered she had light sensitivity and was not completely deaf.
Primrose had laser treatment to reduce the pressure building-up behind her eyes and tubes put in her ears to help her hear more.
And after the little girl battled her 76 days of 'crisis' last year, leading to the removal of her optic tissue, she has since drastically improved.
The girl will undergo more surgery on her eyes later this year, and will also get eye implants.
"We were talking about life or death for Primrose, she was severely and critically ill," explained Eryn of the decision.
She continued: "Now she is starting to communicate in a new and different way, she will always have to approach life differently, but we have now removed the source of her pain.
"If she never really talks or speaks, we will find other ways to communicate with her, we will teach her sign language or figure something else out.
"She has started to use her forefingers and thumb to pinch her snacks, which she couldn't do before, and suddenly is now sleeping through the night."
Eryn and her husband say they always knew they wanted to adopt, calling it a "beautiful and rich experience".
They hope Primrose's biological parents can one day be at ease knowing their daughter is safe, happy and in a loving home.
Photographer Paige Ewing captured images of the little girl before her eye tissue was removed and tried to focus on how she was already so loved by the family.
She said: "There would be a lot of sacrifices and life changes for Primrose's benefit, basically disrupting their comfortable lives on the behalf of her.
"In my photos I wanted to showcase her uniqueness physically and that she was already their daughter, cuddling her just like they would their own children.
"I wanted to make that visual connection showing she was an orphan living alone but now was immediately part of a family.
"Now Primrose has had surgery to remove her eyes she is no longer in pain, they feel hopeful again and are ready for their new life."
Featured Image Credit: Caters