Fla. Woman Blind for 23 Years Regains Sight - NBC New York
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Fla. Woman Blind for 23 Years Regains Sight

"I always knew in my heart that God was going to let me have my eyesight back. I knew it"

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    Mary Ann Franco, a southwest Florida woman who was blind for 23 years following a car accident, is seeing again thanks to a miracle that happened during a spinal surgery. (Published Friday, May 13, 2016)

    For a 70-year-old Florida woman, seeing came after believing.

    Mary Ann Franco was blind for 23 years. The former nurse lost her vision in 1993 after she was involved in a car crash and suffered a stroke.

    "Nothing. I couldn't see anything. However Hell felt, I felt like I was there," Franco said.

    Franco, however, didn't allow blindness to stop her. For two decades, she took up hobbies like painting, drawing and even skydiving.

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    "So you can't see, so what? Get up and get moving and stuff, and I did," Franco said.

    But after falling on uneven tiles in her home, Franco needed spinal realignment surgery. She woke up in the hospital and noticed something different — she could see.

    Dr. John Afshar, Franco's neurosurgeon, was shocked by the outcome.

    Afshar, whose procedure was not meant to help Franco's vision, believes blood flow may have been restored to an area in Franco's spine where nerve cells were dormant.

    "She's my miracle patient. She basically amazed me," he said.

    With her newly regained vision, Franco is working toward her driver's license and plans to visit family in Michigan, including grandchildren who she hasn't been able to look at since they were babies.

    "Everything comes back so nice and easy," she said from behind the wheel.

    Franco said she never gave up believing her eyesight would be restored.

    "I always knew in my heart that God was going to let me have my eyesight back. I knew it," she said.