Homeless man gets a $30K gift from a Fresno doctor

May 11, 2013 12:01:17 AM PDT
A homeless man whose eye was shot by a paintball gun that left him blind in one eye -- is getting free treatment from a Fresno eye doctor. It's a $30,000 gift this man would otherwise not be able to afford.

Les Garcia was preparing his blankets for bed several weeks ago when police say two teens pegged him in the eye with a paintball gun. The injury was traumatic for Garcia. But, Friday a Fresno doctor offered all of his services and treatment for free.

Les Garcia kicked aside the cans he planned to cash in Friday morning, for a ride to the doctor compliments of American Ambulance.

It was the only way he could make it from the corner where he lives in Downtown Fresno to North Fresno.

Three weeks ago, Dr. Azhar Salahuddin first met Garcia in the emergency room at Community Regional Medical Center.

"When I saw him and I saw the injury, my heart just went out to him," said Dr. Azhar Salahuddin. "He is a great person and no one deserves this kind of injury, least of all a person like him who is down on his luck."

The injury is devastating and permanent. Dr. Salahuddin pieced Garcia's eye together and stitched it up the best he could. The alternative was removing the eye altogether.

Dr. Azhar Salahuddin said, "He was hit with a pellet directly in his eye and that caused his eye to actually split in half."

Despite the painful recovery, Garcia says he is grateful he will still have an eye.

"He is a blessing, and when you get blessed like this. Especially because I cannot afford this medication," said Garcia. "He could have just let the eyeball fall off but he didn't, he wanted to save my eyeball. And I appreciate him so much."

Dr. Azhar Salahuddin took a closer look at how his eye is healing. "Here's how it stands here. Your left eye is perfect, as you know. Your right eye is looking good. It's coming along well."

Garcia also asked about how he should tend to his eye. "So what do I do now about this? You have about 10 stitches in there, it goes all the way to the back of the eye. I'm going to remove the stitches but it's too early."

Garcia has intense headaches nearly every day. He says since his other eye has to strain all day to make up for the blind eye, it's very sore by the day's end. But he says he is also thankful police caught the two teens who officers say were firing at random homeless people.

18 year old Felix Flores of Bakersfield, and his 17 year old friend are facing felony charges for the crime, including assault with a deadly weapon.

Les Garcia got new eye drops to prevent any infection. But now he says he just needs to get some sunglasses to protect his eye while it heals.

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