Mary Ann Franco is a former nurse who lives in Okeechobee, Florida. Always an active and spunky sort of personality, Mary Ann was driving to work in 1993 when she suddenly found herself in need of medical treatment. A car accident ruptured several disks in her spine. She was whisked into emergency surgery to repair the disks. While on the operating table, she suffered a stroke and emerged from surgery with absolutely no vision—blind. For Mary Ann this was almost like a death sentence. She said she felt as if she was in “hell”.
It took a while for Mary Ann Franco to put her life back together, but the old spunkiness kicked in and she began a very active and well documented life as a “blind artist.” And the adventurous side did not take a permanent back seat. She even parachuted out of airplanes.
After 23 years of adjusting to life without vision, Mary Ann found herself once again in the operating room. After a fall in her home, she re-injured her spine, particularly in the neck. Dr. John Afshar, her neurosurgeon, performed corrective surgery. What no one expected, most of all Mary Ann, is that when she would awaken from the anesthesia she would look outside her room’s window and see the river with a sail boat gliding by. Not only did Mary Ann awaken with her vision fully restored, but even her lifelong condition of being color blind was reversed.
Dr. Afshar has one possible theory, that in the course of correcting the spine, a blood vessel that had been pinched as a consequence of the earlier surgery was now released and blood was able to flow once again to dormant nerve cells, restoring Mary Ann’s sight. But, as Dr. Afshar says, one always has to be prepared for the miracle to occur, and it would seem that perhaps in this case it is a little bit of both.
Mary Ann is wasting no time catching up on all that she missed. First step is securing her driver’s license so she can go and visit all her family and friends she has not been able to see for all these years.