YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A 13-month-old blind girl brought to the US from the Dominican Republic for emergency surgery can now see out of one eye.
“The operation on Baby Scarling’s left eye was a success,” Joseph Occhipinti, the executive director of the National Police Defense Foundation, told CLIFFVIEW PILOT this morning.
“Next Wednesday the doctor will operate on the right eye,” he added. “Hopefully all her eyesight will be restored.”
Occhipinti’s foundation brought Scarling Cabrera – known as “Baby Scarling” — and her mother here for yesterday’s free surgery by Brian Campolattaro, a pediatric ophthalmologist, at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary on 14th Street in Manhattan. .
Occhipinti went to the American Consulate in Santo Domingo last week to secure emergency medical visas for Scarling, who has been blind since birth, and her mom.
The mission is part of “Operation Kids,” a child safety initiative of the National Police Defense Foundation that has made surgery possible for critically and severely handicapped children worldwide.
Occhipini said he learned of Baby Scarling while on a March mission to the Dominican Republic with Campolattaro.
The surgeon was unable to help her there, Occhipinti said, but believed he could successfully complete the work in the U.S.
The NPDF “agreed to secure the necessary visas and fund the entire cost of travel, lodging and related expenses,” Occhipinti said.
The NPDF is primarily dedicated to providing medical and legal support services to law enforcement officers in a dozen countries.
But it also operates “Operation Kids,” which distributes free fingerprint kits to parents, posts rewards for missing children and runs the medical-care missions.
“We’ll fly anywhere in the world for a critically ill baby for a life-saving operation,” Occhipinti said.
Corporate sponsorships and other benefactors help fund operations for the 501(c)(3) non-profit foundation, which is a CLIFFVIEW PILOT sponsor ( SEE: National Police Defense Foundation ).
Occhipinti said he considers himself blessed by “the good will of the hospitals, doctors and donors” who have footed the bill for the missions, the treatment and other expenses. This “gives each one of these children a chance to enjoy a normal life,” he said.
It’s only fitting that a police-related organization does this work, Occhipinti said.
After all, he said, “police have always had a special love for protecting children.”
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