The Free Press, Mankato, MN

October 31, 2013

Benefit to help boy with damaged eye

Metal lodged in eye leads to big expenses

By Robb Murray rmurray@mankatofreepress.com
The Mankato Free Press

---- — He was just being a kid. Just doing what 9-year-olds will do.

William Lynn and some buddies were having some fun, using tools to hammer at some rocks, when a piece chipped off and buried itself in William’s left eye.

Whether the chunk of metal came off a tool or out of the rock — or whatever it was that he was hammering — is irrelevant now. What mattered is this 2 mm-by-6 mm chunk was lodged in his left eye, and he was in trouble.

That was in September 2012. Today, William is OK, but he’s been through a handful of surgeries and might have a handful more before it’s through. And even then, he’ll likely never have normal sight in this left eye.

The Lynn family is just glad William didn’t lose an eye or worse — the chunk of metal came dangerously close to his brain. And today they’ve got insurance to cover the considerable costs associated with his medical care.

But back in 2012, they didn’t have insurance and expenses piled up. That’s why a benefit is planned for Sunday. They’re hoping to raise money to help them pay some of those hospital bills. In addition to bills, William’s mother, Sonja, was unable to work at the family business, a roofing company, where she’s the salesperson in charge of bringing in business.

Sonja Lynn says she still feels guilty about that day. She says that if she’d been home, she could have told the boys to stop or at least told William to put on his safety goggles.

On that day, William’s older sister drove him to the emergency room at Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato. A doctor there, after hearing William assess his own pain level as a “2” on a scare of 1-10, told them to see an eye doctor in the morning, Sonja Lynn said. Which they did. And once the eye doctor took a look at William’s eye, she immediately began preparations for surgery.

“The eye doctor literally jumped,” Sonja Lynn said. “She said he needs emergency surgery today. Where do you want to

go.”

They chose Rochester, and William and the rest of the family headed east. That first surgery took more than seven hours, with surgeons carefully navigating the delicate realm of retinas and corneas.

Surgery was successful, but it was just the first of many.

William now wears a rigid contact lens, which is not a permanent solution. They’re hoping that, sometime down the road, he can have a new permanent lens sewn into his eye. The problem, Lynn said, is the tissue available to sew a new lens into is severely damaged, making such a procedure difficult.

For now, the family is focusing on the benefit event, which Lynn said has been humbling.

She said the family has always tried to help others. She recalled one case where, on an out-of-state roofing job, they were running low on cash but still did everything they could to help the workers they’d hired, including one who was homeless. Also, because of a death in their extended family, the Lynns have taken in the daughter of one of their relatives, which came without any additional financial aid.

She’s hoping acts such as that have allowed them to bank some karma so that now, in their time of need, people will help. She’s hoping the benefit will give people the right avenue to give them a hand. It’s billed as a chili feed but will also include a silent auction, comedy show and raffle.

Lynn says the ordeal has changed William a little bit.

“There was one trip (to Rochester for surgery) and he started to complain a little bit. I just looked at him and said, ‘Honey, if you'd have been wearing your safety glasses we wouldn't be doing this,’” Lynn said. “And then he never complained again.”

If you go What: Benefit for William Lynn When: Noon-4 p.m. Sunday Where: Grace Baptist Church, 600 Lind St., Mankato Cost: $6 per meal