All Seven of Family’s Children May Go Blind
Samuel, Pheonix, Flynn, Willow, Quinn, Eli, and Jim-Bob Appleton are siblings in the United Kingdom, with more in common than just their parents. They all carry a genetic disorder called Leber hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON), which means they could all go blind before age 21.
LHON is an inherited disorder that causes vision loss, and it especially affects men, though only women can pass it on. The blindness happens over time, and usually starts with a little bit of blur in one eye. There is no way to reverse or even slow down the process, and once the individual is blind it is permanent.
The disorder is fairly rare; it only affects one in between 30,000 to 50,000 people in England and Finland.
The oldest Appleton, Samuel, 20, is already blind because of the genetic condition. He lost his sight last August 2012 after being ill for about three months. That was when the Appleton’s discovered that Sherie, the mother of the seven children, is a carrier for the disorder. There is no cure for Leber optic atrophy.
Samuel had to give up his job as a carpenter, but he has already begun to make the best of his blindness. He started a massage company called Blind Sensations.
On his Facebook page, he says, “As there is not much call for a Blind Carpenter I started a college course to retrain as a masseur. I have been working alongside other masseuses and Sports therapists for a while now, and I am hoping to make this a vocation, as my piano tuning and basket weaving skills are somewhat lacking.
There is still a chance that Sherie could go blind later on in life, because the disorder usually effects women later in life than it does for men. Some of the children may have a chance of not going blind as well, but it isn’t likely.
Father of the seven children, Jimmy Appleton, has committed to showing them the world before they lose their sight. He takes them to museums, takes day trips with them and takes them to the beach.
If they ever ask to go see something, he does his best to grant their wish. He said he figures if he can’t prevent them from going blind, at least he can show them everything they can while they still have their sight.
“For the young kids it’s all about appreciating their sight and getting out and doing it while they can. Every day is a blessing.”
If you knew your children could go blind in their early twenties, what would you show them? What would you want them to remember?
Image via Flickr/apdk