The Daily Mail is reporting on the story of Dafne Gutierrez who suffers from benign intracranial hypertension, a condition that causes pressure in the brain that damages optical nerves. Gutierrez went totally blind in November of 2015 and because the condition is irreversible, doctors said she would never be able to see again.
However, Gutierrez, 31, is a woman of faith and the idea of never seeing her three young children’s faces again was her main motivation for hoping against hope that she might be cured.
“For me, I was like, ‘Please God, let me see those faces again. Let me be their mother again.’ Because I feel like (my kids) were watching me, taking care of me 24-7,” Gutierrez told WNCT.
One day she heard that the relics of a Lebanese monk named Saint Charbel would be visiting St Joseph Maronite Catholic Church in Phoenix. After hearing from her sister-in-law that a blind boy in Mexico had been healed by the saint, Gutierrez decided to visit the church.
On Saturday, January 18, 2016, she went to St. Joseph’s where she had her confession heard and attended Mass. Afterward, she was blessed with the Holy Oil by Fr. Wissam Akiki, pastor of St. Joseph’s. She left the church that day feeling “different” and returned the following Sunday, only to experience the same feeling again.
According to Dr. Anne Borik, a board certified internal medicine physician who reviewed her case, Gutierrez awoke at 4:00 a.m. the following morning with severe pain in her head, and her eyes were burning.
“I was just wiping my eyes, and I’m like, ‘They burn! They burn!’” Gutierrez remembers.
When her husband turned on the lights, she was able to see vague shadows, but her husband said, “It is impossible because you are not able to see!”
He described an odor of “burnt meat” coming out of her nostrils.
Gutierrez called her ophthalmologist that morning and was evaluated, only to learn that she was still legally blind with abnormal optic nerves. Two days later, she saw another ophthalmologist who confirmed that her vision was restored to a perfect 20/20.
“This is a condition where the pressure in the brain is so high that oftentimes it strangulates the optic nerves. Unfortunately once the blindness occurs, it’s irreversible,” Dr. Borik said. “We took her to actually two other specialists to look at the eyes and see how can we explain this medically, and in fact there was really no medical explanation.”
In addition to having her vision restored to 20/20, there is no sign of any damage to her optic nerve.
“After this happened, the optic nerve looked completely normal, with no signs of damage or atrophy,” Dr. Borik said. “There’s nothing in the medical literature that anything like this had ever happened.”
Mrs. Gutierrez contacted Fr. Wissam immediately and he consulted with a group of physicians to investigate her healing. An extensive review of her medical records took place as well as repeat examinations.
“This is something we just don’t see,” Dr. Borik said. “A long-standing damaged optic nerve causing blindness does not just all-of-a-sudden look normal in two days with complete restoration of vision.”
The medical committee eventually ruled that, “After a thorough physical exam, extensive literature search and review of all medical records, we have no medical explanation and therefore believe this to be a miraculous healing through the intercession of St. Sharbel.”
Maronite Bishop A. Elias Zaidan described Gutierrez’s recovery as a “healing” by Saint Charbel.
“May this healing of the sight of Dafne be an inspiration for all of us to seek the spiritual sight, in order to recognize the will of God in our lives and to act accordingly,” he wrote in a newsletter about the incident.
On the 18th of every month, St. Joseph Maronite Church now has a special ceremony in honor of Saint Charbel which draws hundreds of people.
“We’re having people coming to St. Joseph Maronite Catholic Church from Germany, Bolivia, Canada, Australia, Jerusalem,” Father Akiki said. “Really what happened here changed the faith and the face of our church.”
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