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‘It’s a whole new world for her’: Toddler has groundbreaking eye surgery in Iowa

IOWA CITY, Iowa (KWWL) — 3-year-old McKinley Sovey and her family have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

McKinley was born with Leber Congenital Amaurosis, a rare gene mutation that left her practically blind. It’s so rare that only 2,000 people are diagnosed with it in the entire country.

Earlier this month, the family traveled from Wisconsin to the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital for a groundbreaking surgery.

The treatment is called “Luxturna” and was approved by the FDA less than a year ago. It’s the country’s first gene therapy for an inherited disease.

According to the hospital, “The new therapy involves injecting copies of a normal version of the RPE65 gene – the gene responsible for producing a protein that makes light receptors work – into the patient’s eye. In the final stages of the 2013 clinical trial, patients were directed by arrows through a mobility course in seven different light levels, with the course changing with each change in lighting. The lowest level of light was that of a moonless summer night, and the brightest was that of a well-lit office.”

Both surgeries were successful, and McKinley is now seeing a world of color.


Lauren Moss

KWWL News Anchor and Multimedia Journalist

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