By Katey Garrett

Devin Thomure, a junior at Exeter Union High School and youngest of five brothers, was involved in a freak accident during Christmas vacation. The Eagle Scout who dreams of becoming an architect attends Sacred Heart and St. Mary's Churches. Thomure will be confirmed this year and although recent times have been difficult for him and his family, he has experienced a miracle that far exceeds any bad experiences.

It was the first day of Christmas break when Thomure was stabbed in the eye. After a five-hour long emergency surgery, doctors found that the injury was too severe and told the family that all sight in the student's left eye would be lost. Known as a person who pushes onward no matter how bad the moment may seem, Thomure obtained a second opinion at UCLA, where he was told that there weren't any doctors in California that could help him however, in Birmingham, Alabama, there are doctors that specialize in severe eye injury.

The Thomure's health insurance turned the claim down and said that they would not pay for the surgery in Alabama. Refusing to tell their son that his only chance for sight was denied, the family decided that no matter what, they would find a way to go to Alabama and worry about the insurance later.

Although the family fought hard to overcome each obstacle, there was one placed before them that seemed nearly unbearable. The hospital where Thomure would have his eye operated on, as well as each of the doctors in Alabama, would not allow the surgery to happen unless the family paid cash beforehand. Knowing that time was of the essence, because eyes deteriorate rapidly once they have been severely injured, the family reached out to community members for help.

&#8220Devin has been such a trooper,” said Thomure's father. &#8220He said, ‘We haven't gone this far to just give up' and he was right.”

From flyers, to emails and even postings on myspace.com, friends and family of Thomure joined together to help the student. On Feb. 8, the College Of Sequoias Thursday Night Jazz Band will be joining the Exeter Union High School Band in a fund-raiser that will include great musical entertainment in the EUHS auditorium. The performance will be in honor of Thomure and his dedication to his family, friends and the community. Thomure loves music and comes from a family of EUHS band members. The Exeter Knight's of Columbus will be having a spaghetti dinner to raise funds as well. The dinner will take place on Feb. 16 at the Exeter Woman's Club from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

&#8220I just cannot believe how the community has pulled together to help,” said Thomure's father, Lloyd. &#8220It is really awesome.”

Another awesome thing that the family is celebrating is the news that came from Alabama last Tuesday. After spending six hours in surgery, Thomure received great news from his doctors. Unlike a previous diagnosis that said the retina was no longer attached, doctors in Alabama found that in fact, the retina was almost fully attached and with the help of a laser, the unattached areas were tacked to the eye and strengthened, allowing Thomure to see some blurry images.

Thomure's mother, Pam, reported that a doctor in Alabama said that he was amazed at how undamaged the back of the eye was, considering the amount of damage that the front of Thomure's eye endured. The lens of the eye has been removed and, if all goes well, will be replaced by an artificial lens at a later time. Until then, Thomure will be unable to focus on light and although his cornea was severely damaged, it was able to be replaced by a donor. Silicone oil has been placed in Thomure's eye to keep it from shrinking and although Thomure's eye has no iris, he should be able to obtain a tattooed contact lens that will simulate an iris sometime down the road.

Continuing with prayer, the family is holding their breath in hopes that the eye produces the natural gel that nourishes the retina and keeps the eye in working order, which will be monitored by a doctor in Visalia. &#8220Any bump on the road will bring us back to Alabama,” said Thomure's mother. &#8220That will not be a good thing.”

The family said that Thomure would need special glasses to protect his one good eye and to prevent any further damage to the injured one. In addition, Thomure has to sleep with a metal shield on his eye and must lie facedown, which has been uncomfortable and limits his sleep.

&#8220We are still not out of the woods,” said Thomure's mother, who asks that the community continue praying for her son. &#8220Devin has been a great patient. I am so proud of his courage.”

In a photograph of Thomure that shows his injured eye, he has a big smile on his face, showing that although Christmas was very different for his family this year, there is plenty to be thankful for.

&#8220I cannot begin to tell everyone how very much our family appreciates all of your efforts,” wrote Thomure's mother. &#8220The prayers and petitions, the footwork and phone calls, all of the e-mailing and financial sacrifices.”

Although the community has pulled together in several ways to help the family overcome the last two months of emotional, physical and financial struggles, there is still an estimated $30,000 needed.

From a diagnosis that said he would never see again, to refreshing news and a successful surgery that brings new hope and possible sight, Thomure knows first hand that the two-month long adventure has been a painful and long road that is proving to be a very big miracle.

To donate to the family, send donations to the Devin Thomure Medical Fund at Bank of America, located at 100 E. Pine Street in Exeter. For more information about the band's fund-raiser, call Director of Bands, Kirk Clague at 592-2127.

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