AUSTRALIAN teenager Riley Adams was thrilled to be heading off on his first cruise.
At first, the 15-year-old was having a great time running around the ship, playing basketball and riding the wave pool as the family of five headed to New Zealand along with a group of friends. But then things took a sudden and shocking turn for the worst.
It all started with a headache that struck the Queenslander on the first night of the 10-day cruise, and by the next morning his world had changed in a devastating way.
His parents Jason and Jodi Adams detailed their sadness about what happened on board the January 12 cruise on a GoFundMe page, which has raised more than $16,000 so far towards Riley's medical costs.
"What was just a headache when he went to bed that night and then awoke Saturday morning to a golf ball size bulge from his left eye, was confronting to us all," father Jason wrote.
"After being seen by the on ship doctors and still being out at sea for another 24 hours, panic did start to creep in."
They headed straight to the local hospital once the ship docked in Dunedin the next morning, where doctors checked Riley's eye.
"Once arriving at Dunedin Hospital and having a CT scan done our nightmare began."
A specialist told them Riley needed immediate surgery to reduce the swelling in his eye.
"Trying to make sense of what he was telling us he then produced a scalpel and proceeded to cut into his lower lid - while we were still trying to process what he had just told us. It all moved so quickly from there and in a blur, three hours later he again was undergoing surgery - this time in theatre for a couple of hours."
Doctors informed them that Riley had contracted sinusitis which had blocked the drainage holes in his sinus area leading to orbital cellulitis, an inflammation of the tissue in the eye. Sadly, he ended up losing sight in the eye.
"Devastatingly the outcome we all had to face was that Riley's optical nerve has been damaged in the time the infection took hold, and now our beautiful, charismatic, out going 15-year-old son has lost his sight in his left eye. It's a lot for a family in a foreign country to take in."
Despite the operation, the infection still raged behind his eye and he was placed on heavy doses of antibiotics and steroids in an attempt to avoid meningitis.
The family are not able to fly home to Brisbane until the infection is gone.
"Our lives feel like they are just spinning around as we try to take it all in ... As parents we are just so sad for our beautiful boy at 15 to have lost his sight in one of his eyes - this tragedy is devastating at any age but at 15 it breaks our hearts."
Riley needs treatments to help retrain his brain in depth perception and special awareness. His parents say they are so "proud" of their son's maturity - it was Riley who suggested starting the GoFundMe page to help with medical costs.
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