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Stem Cells Help a Local Blind Man See

An update on a mid- state man's rare eye disease with no known, cureDoug Oliver underwent an experimental stem cell treatment in August.

Fox 17 first told you about Oliver's inherited form of macular degeneration, earlier this year. He and his wife, Ann were trying to raise more than $20,000 to participate in the privately funded clinical trial. Despite the cost, Oliver says the results are priceless.

Doug Oliver has been legally blind for decades. He is now legal to drive, after the Stem Cell Ophthalmology Treatment Study (SCOTS) in Fort Lauderdale.

Oliver says, "I had to manage expectations, because there aren't any guarantees with a clinical trial. This particular procedure used my own bone marrow stem cells. I started having vision problems happening very slowly in my 20's."

Reversing Malattia Levintense is faster than the rare retinal disease robbing him of his sight.

Oliver went into surgery with 2400 vision in both eyes...He came out with 20/60 and 20/70.

Oliver thought it was, "impossible and I told the doctor, but they were smiling ear to ear."

Dr. Steven Levy is the director of SCOTS. He say all participants undergo the same treatment taking stem cells from them patient and placing them in the their own damaged eye areas. Dr. Levy says patients own doctors verify results including Oliver's at Vanderbilt.

Dr. Steven Levy says, " We've seen a number of patients improve more typically taking a greater amount of time, but we were ecstatic."

Doug Oliver's vision continues to improve. The first time he got to see his wife of three years?

"I smiled very big, she has beautiful blue eyes. I could see the sparkle of light," he says.

Oliver and his wife are holding a party on Saturday to thank all their supporters and fundraiser donors. After raising money, he is trying to raise awareness, encouraging others with vision problems to seek stem cell clinical trials and to talk to their personal doctors.

Oliver says, " It is a miracle that is stem cell regenerative medicine. These clinical trials are very effective. Other countries have been doing stem cell transplants for five years or more. The U.S. is behind for multiple reasons, but there is a lack of funding. In my last interview, I said I want to give the glory to God for being chosen and now I am giving the glory to God for restoration of my sight. "

Doug Oliver's case will be in a research journal. Stem Cell Ophthalmology Treatment Study is the largest stem cell study for irreversible vision loss. For more information, visit: https://www.clinicaltrials.gov/

For updates on Oliver's journey, visit: https://www.gofundme.com/MyEyesNeedU

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