Miracles are not the stuff of dreamy fantasy, but a tangible truth to Shoshanna Garfinkel and ophthalmologist Leonard H. Ginsburg, M.D., a certified diabetes educator, as well as the chairman of Moore Eye Institute of Springfield Hospital in Delaware County.
That's because of the way Garfinkel, a diabetic who lost sight in both eyes during her first pregnancy, regained complete eyesight in her left eye after the right eye had been operated on by Ginsburg on Sept. 11, 2003.
"There could be a medical explanation, there could be scientific answers, but she had so much blood in her eye that I've never seen it clear like that in just one day," said Ginsburg.
"It could take a month or more for that much blood to go, so we're all convinced it's a miracle. We're all convinced it was God helping us, because life is full of miracles, because God works miracles in ways we don't understand," acknowledged Ginsburg, chief of ophthalmology at Springfield Hospital.
Garfinkel had vitreous hemorrhages, he said, bleeding in the vitreous jelly in both eyes — but the right eye had bled longer, so it was operated on first.
The day after the surgery Garfinkel's right eye was 20/40, and the untouched left eye was 20/30, very good eyesight in both eyes, attested Ginsburg.
Surgery that had been scheduled on the left eye for the following week was canceled, but that eye did bleed again several weeks later, so surgery was performed ultimately on Oct. 28, 2003.
Garfinkel is now 20/20 in each eye, said Ginsburg.
At Chanukah time, the doctor and his patient — and others who share an abiding connection with them through faith, family and fellowship — celebrate their own powerful victory of light over darkness.
"I learned completely that there is a power in the universe far beyond that of man's ability to do good, and to help through medicine and surgery.
"I learned of the power of God, of God working through man," said an at-times-tearful doctor, speaking on World Diabetes Day, celebrated recently at the institute — which is named after his late grandmother, Belle Moore, who lost her eyesight to macular degeneration.
He said that every day he says morning prayers in which is included, of course, the prayer in praise of God who restores sight to the blind — the same prayer he said on the morning of Garfinkel's surgery and which now has special meaning.
"Shoshanna had lost a lot of her eyesight by the time she was five months pregnant, due to swelling and bleeding in the center of her eye; and while there was some improvement over the next six months thanks to laser treatments, in time her eyesight began to grow progressively worse," explained Ginsburg, educated at the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard University, under Lloyd Aiello, M.D., inventor of the diabetic laser.
"I am a serious scientist, not a religious fanatic," said Ginsburg. "I had never seen a miracle before and haven't seen one since, but I know in my heart there is more going on than simply the skill in my hands. This experience has changed my life."