A revolutionary cornea transplant

July 01, 2014


To his parents, Tobias Klein is known as “the energizer bunny.” He loves to ride his scooter and bicycle, and playing with “anything that’s round, that he could throw,” according to his mother Kim.

Tobias was only 4 years old when he was helping out with some yard work at the family’s home in Kansas, and happened to get mulch in his eye. What followed was an infection and excessive scarring of the cornea. Tobias’ cornea was so damaged that he was unable to see. He needed a cornea transplant.

The Kleins were referred to Roger Steinert, MD, a leading expert in cornea surgery and the director of The Gavin Herbert Eye Institute at UCI Health.

Steinert said two things immediately came to mind when he heard about Tobias’ condition.

“This is a case where all of the technology—everything we’ve been working on—can really make a difference in a major way on a young child for the rest of his life,” Steinert says. “At the same time, doing this type of transplant in someone that young has just simply never been done before.”

Any complication during the procedure would have left Tobias with chronic rejection issues for the rest of his life, and there was no room for error. But the surgery was a success.

Now, Tobias is back to doing all the activities he loves to do.

“He’s an active boy. He’s a capable boy. He would be a different boy if it wasn’t for Dr. Steinert,” says Tobias’ father, Thomas Klein.

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