I had been blind 25 years. I had a heart attack, woke up, and could see. I said to my husband: 'You've got older'
By Nick Britten
A woman who had been blind for 25 years awoke in hospital after suffering a heart attack and found that she could see again.
Since 1979, Joyce Urch had lived in a world of shadows and near-darkness, but was astonished to find her sight restored when she came round after being resuscitated.
Doctors have been unable to explain what happened, but Mrs Urch, 74, was happy yesterday to put it down to a "miracle".
She said: "When I first came round I just opened my eyes and shouted, 'I can see, I can see.' When I looked in the mirror I said, 'Oh.' I said to [her husband] Eric, 'You've got older haven't you?' But I thought, 'I'm old myself, my husband must be too.'
"The first time you look in the mirror you look at yourself and think, 'Is that really me?' But a lot of things have changed."
Mrs Urch had been unable to see her five children properly since they were young adults and, for the first time, was able to look at her 12 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. She said that despite suffering from glaucoma, doctors did not think this was why her sight went, although they were unable to pinpoint the reason.
"They did a lot of tests and said it was a genetic condition," said Mrs Urch. "Other members of my family have lost their sight, including my grandmother and two aunts.
"I had lots of treatments at the hospital but eventually went completely blind. It was totally different when my sight returned. It happened immediately and I could see everything straight away."
There was no sign of what was to come when, 16 months ago, Mrs Urch suffered a heart attack and was admitted to Walgrave Hospital in Coventry, where doctors spent three days battling to save her life.
She and Mr Urch celebrated their golden wedding anniversary last weekend in a way of which she had never dreamed. She said: "I love going out now. I can look around and see the trees and squirrels and pigeons."
Mr Urch, 77, a former coal miner, said: "I didn't believe it when she said she could see me. I said 'What colour pull-over am I wearing?' She said 'grey', and she was right. When Joyce first went blind it made a huge change to our life. Everything seemed to fall away from us. She couldn't do anything.
"She does little chores now. We try to do everything between us. This has given us both our lives back."
Their eldest daughter, Carol Obeirne, 46, said: "When she first came round we thought, 'This is not going to last, she is going to die.' Then she started shouting, 'I can see'. I was just so excited.
"My mother has never been given any medical explanation as to why she lost her sight, nor has she ever been offered any medical explanation as to how she recovered it."
Martin Breen, consultant cardiologist at the Walgrave Hospital, said: "I am not able to give a medical explanation. When she was admitted to hospital, she had suffered a serious heart attack and our main concern was to save her life. I am delighted that she has fully recovered, and it is an added bonus that she has also recovered her sight."