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Commonhealth: Treating The Intellectually Disabled

Dr. Susannah Rowe, anesthesiologist Oleg Gusakov and nurse anestheticst Dale Putnam in the pre-op room with Kevin. (George Hicks/ WBUR)

Dr. Susannah Rowe, anesthesiologist Oleg Gusakov and nurse anestheticst Dale Putnam in the pre-op room with Kevin. (George Hicks/ WBUR)

For most people who are able to see, the prospect of losing that vision is frightening. Now, imagine losing that vision while also having severe intellectual disabilities that cause an already-tenuous connection to the outside world. Restoring sight to these patients requires extra compassion and unorthodox medical care.

Guests

Rachel Zimmerman, co-editor of WBUR’s Commonhealth.

Susannah Rowe, an eye surgeon at Boston Medical Center.

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WBUR “Institutionalized since childhood, Kevin, now 56, has been losing his sight for the past two years to the point that doctors said he can see little more than shadows. He’s here at BMC awaiting cataract surgery, a fairly simple procedure that generally takes about 30 minutes in the operating room. But for Kevin, who has long feared doctors and has a history of aggressive, unpredictable behavior — like hitting himself or inadvertently hurting others or running away when he’s in distress — the procedure isn’t simple at all.”


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