"It felt like I was being stabbed in the eye," recalls Taylor Binns of the agonizing pain that consumed him. The 23-year-old star rugby player and Queen's University student saw more than 30 specialists before being diagnosed with limbal stem cell deficiency, a rare and painful disorder that damages stem cells in the cornea of the eye.

By the time Taylor met Dr. Allan Slomovic, Research Director of the Cornea/External Disease Service at Toronto Western Hospital, he was in constant pain and nearly blind. "I couldn't see anything on the eye chart" says Taylor. "I didn't even know it was there."

Taylor was the first person to be treated by Dr. Slomovic and his team in the hospital's new ocular stem cell transplant program. This pioneering program is the most comprehensive of its kind in Canada.

While the transplant can be performed utilizing tissue from an eye bank, there is a better chance of success if a sibling donates their stem cells. Fortunately, Taylor's younger sister Tori, 19, was a perfect match. "I don't know how Taylor managed the day-to-day struggle for this long," says Tori, who donated stem cells from her left eye for the procedure. "He was on every sports team, the captain of everything. For once, I can help him out."

The impact of the stem cell transplant was incredible. In just two weeks Taylor went from near blindness and crippling pain to reading the eye chart. He is now able to drive, read street signs and recognize his friends and family easily. Now that Taylor is free from constant pain and has his vision back, he is thinking about getting back into competitive sports and is looking forward to starting medical school. "It is amazing to be able to see again," he says.

Click here to read more about how your support makes a difference to vision patients. Join Dr. Slomovic and Taylor Binns as they share their amazing story at our next Behind-the-Scenes Lecture. Please click here for event details.

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