Engineering firm gives special gift to little girl born nearly blind

Trant Group engineers with the light play mat they have given to little Isabelle.

Isabelle with her mum and dad, Martin Cooper and Milena Walker.

First published in News by

AN INFANT born nearly blind because of a rare eye defect has received visual stimulation equipment from the Hampshire-based engineering group which employs her grandfather.

Isabelle, who is nearly nine months old, has a degenerative retinal disorder which is estimated to affect three in 100,000 newborns in the UK.

Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA), caused by an inherited rogue gene, means Isabelle can only make out light and shadow.

Hearing how she derives pleasure from light perception, the Trant Group swung into action and bought a UV light play mat and a large LED bubble tube.

Isabelle’s grandfather, Richie Cooper, from Hythe, works for Trant as a contractor at Fawley oil refinery.

His construction manager boss at the site, Paul Nimmo, heard about Isabelle’s condition and got the ball rolling.

The equipment will be used for a sensory dark room being kitted out at the Hythe home of Isabelle’s parents , Martin Cooper and Milena Walker.

They knew something was wrong when they saw their daughter’s eye movements jerk involuntarily when Isabelle was a few weeks old.

Martin, 28, who runs a tree surgery firm, said: “Isabelle can only make out light and shadow, so the equipment donated to her by Trant will help with her development at home, and we are grateful to my dad’s company for such kindness.

“The condition is so rare that we have only heard of two other families in the region who have a child with LCA, so it is difficult to share experiences face-to-face with other parents.”

He added: “There is no specific treatment for LCA and we have to be especially careful outdoors because Isabelle loves turning her face to the sun, with the danger that she would damage her retinas even more.”

Clinical trials of gene replacement therapy for LCA are being conducted in North America and at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London, with reports of dramatic improvements in vision after treatment.

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