Friday, 07 October 2016 10:42
Family Vision Reaches Out to Save a Sister from Blindness
SARATOGA SPRINGS — When historic Saratoga restaurant Lillian’s closed, employee Dilyana Bell didn’t know where her next job would be. Unbeknownst to her, Susan E Halstead, ABOC, FNAO, owner of Family Vision Care Center, reached out to Lillian’s saying she was looking to hire someone great, and Bell was at the top of the recommended list. Bell joined Family Vision in February. It was a great match. In a recent statement, Halstead described Bell as a hard worker, honest, loyal and trainable. All that and more. So, when Bell found out her big sister was going blind, Halstead jumped all in to help without hesitation. “In May, we learned that D’s [Dilyana’s] 29-year-old sister, Tatyana, was diagnosed with granular corneal dystrophy,” said Halstead. “She is extremely light sensitive and without obtaining corneal transplants, she will go completely blind. Her vision now is comparable to having a handful of sand thrown into your eyes that you cannot get out.” Tatyana Georgieva and her sister, Bell, grew up in Bulgaria, a country in Eastern Europe. Bell moved to the U.S. four years ago, but her sister remained. Bell is deeply devoted to her family, and has many happy memories of her and her sister and parents spending weekends out on the farm, tending a huge vegetable garden and taking care of cows and pigs together. Back home in town, she remembers how they’d cuddle on the couch and watch television. It was very loving. Then their father passed away. “The moment I lost my father,” said Bell, “I said to my sister and my mother that I would do everything I can to make sure that they are healthy and fine. It’s very painful when I see my sister and her eyes. She’s so young, and she could lose her vision and never be able to see again. It’s very hard to accept it, because she’s married and wants to have kids soon.” Georgieva lives with her husband in Bulgaria. According to Halstead, she and her husband are architects with a combined annual income of $3,000. Halstead said that in Bulgaria, organs are very rarely donated and transplants are rare due to religious beliefs. “Granular corneal dystrophy is completely treatable with corneal transplants,” said Halstead. “We have been working for months at trying to secure the procedure for Tatyana in Albany with Dr. Schultz and Albany Medical Center Hospital.” The good news is they recently learned that Shultz and the hospital are willing to help Georgieva and are offering an extraordinary discount on their expertise and services. But both the Bulgarian and U.S. governments need proof that the procedure is fully paid before Georgieva can come here to have it done. The clock is ticking. They need to raise $30,000. The Lion’s Club has offered to provide $4,800 in fond remembrance of Bell’s friendly wait service at their weekly Lillian’s gatherings. Halstead also said that John Baker, owner of Gaffney’s, has generously offered to host a fundraiser on Saturday, November 5 from 1 to 5 p.m. Gaffney’s will provide complimentary hors d’oeuvres. There will be a $25 entrance fee and a silent auction. “I know first hand that all of us are asked every day to provide financial assistance to numerous worthy organizations and charities,” said Halstead. “More importantly, I also know that we are an extremely generous community and I would like to personally ask you to consider assisting this young woman. Whether you believe in fate, Karma, God or simple acts of kindness, it is rather ironic that Dilyana ended up in my employ at precisely the same time her sister received this diagnosis of total blindness if her condition is left untreated. My staff and I feel compelled to do everything we possibly can to make this operation a reality.” How to Help Donate an auction item, especially one that would engender high bidding. Attend the Gaffney’s fundraiser November 5 and bring your friends. Or donate cash or checks made payable to Dilyana Bell, c/o Family Vision Care Center, 205 Lake Avenue, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866. Donations are needed by November 15.