PLATTSBURGH - Ten-year-old Devin Fournier could go blind at any moment.
Immediately after Devin was born, he was officially diagnosed with retinoschisis, an eye disease.
According to the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center, retinoschisis is a disease of the eye's nerve tissue, and is actually a form of macular degeneration.
"My sister had an older boy and he was diagnosed with it when he was younger," explained Devin's mother, Susan Fournier. "It was told to us by the doctor that us girls would be the carriers and the boys would get the disease."
Susan explained when she found out she was pregnant with Devin she had genetic testing done and when he was born the umbilical cord blood was tested, confirming Devin had the disease.
"He can lose his eyesight at any time," said Susan.
"If Devin gets a major blow to his head, he could go [blind] then," she added. "Every time he gets hit in the head, I'm like 'Oh gosh, Devin, can you see me?'"
Every six months, since Devin was just three months old, he has been going to Vermont to have his eyes closely examined to make sure the disease has not progressed. These evaluations require Devin be put under anesthesia.
"They put him under anesthesia because it's so intense," Susan explained. "Devin just can't do the light because he's so light-sensitive in his eyes. So, they just do it that way so they don't hurt him and he doesn't hurt anybody."
When the testing in Vermont brings any concerns, Devin then has to have additional testing done at the Beaumont Hospital in Michigan, which happened this past August.
With the family being on a fixed income, Susan contacted the Make-A-Wish Foundation to find out if there was any assistance they could receive. Although the woman on the other end of the phone said they don't provide that type of assistance, she did ask Susan if she would be interested in applying for a wish, which is granted to children with potentially life-threatening medical conditions.
Devin's wish of a shopping spree was granted at Champlain Centre mall Nov. 11.
Following a trip to Maui North to receive a new bike, Devin took a limousine ride to the mall where he was greeted by numerous employees. Many of the employees took up collections and purchased gifts for Devin, including a scooter from Best Buy, a teddy bear from Hallmark, and a gift card from Game Stop.
"This was a great example of the community coming together," said Make-A-Wish field office coordinator Patricia Reyell-MacMannis. "Everything truly made him feel like a VIP."
"They were absolutely thrilled," Champlain Centre marketing director Joan LaPier said of the mall's employees. "I went around to the stores with information concerning Devin and they were all so excited."
"It was a very heartfelt experience for everyone," she added.
Devin came home from his four-hour shopping spree with an Xbox 360, mini laptop, and flat screen television. He also bought an iPod Touch for his sister, Shawntel Brown.
Although Susan admits Devin was slightly overwhelmed by the whole experience, he was also ecstatic.
"He loves everything he got and everything everybody did for him," she said. "It was such a nice thing."
"They're great," Susan added of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. "If anybody needs a wish, I would say, call Make-A-Wish."
For more information about the Make-A-Wish Foundation, visit www.wish.org.
More about retinoschisis
According to the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center, juvenile X-linked retinoschisis affects primarily boys and young men.
Retinoschisis affects one in 5,000 to 25,000 individuals, often young males. Two aspects of vision are typically affected, including central vision and peripheral vision.
Visual acuity can range from 20/30 to less than 20/200, caused by the formation of tiny cysts in the retina. Visual acuity cannot be improved with glasses, as the cysts often cause nerve damage.
Currently, there are no medical or surgical treatments available for retinoschisis.
For more information, visit www.kellogg.umich.edu/patientcare/conditions/retinoschisis.html.