Wichita homeless woman grateful for gift of surgery to restore vision

Published: Feb. 19, 2020 at 4:55 PM CST
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A blind homeless woman will get the eye surgery she needs to restore her vision after Wichita police launch a fundraiser.

The right person watched Eyewitness News' story earlier Wednesday evening and says she wants to help. With a breakthrough to get the cataract surgery she needs, Leslie Gray can hopefully begin to get back on her feet, Wichita police say.

"She was trusting that other homeless people would walk her to get food or walk her to the Lord's Diner to get dinner, and she was just trusting other people to lead her around because she could not see," says Officer Matthew Lowe with the Wichita Police Department's Homeless Outreach Team.

Lowe says the eye doctor who say Gray says the situation with her cataracts is the worst case he's seen in 30 years of practice.

Police launched a fundraiser to raise $10,000 to correct Gray's vision with surgery.

"God, it would be the best blessing I ever had, because I've never been in the darkest in my world like I am now."

Minutes after Gray's story aired on Eyewitness News at 5, the phone rang. Cypress Surgery Center offered to do Gray's surgery for free.

"I thought her story was very heart touching, and that's the kind of stuff we do every day here at Cypress," says Joyce White, the center's facility administrator. "...We take it for granted when we can see. And the fact that she has lost her vision and had it prior, I just can't imagine what she has gone through. So if we can do this little blessing for this woman, it would be fantastic for everyone involved."

Thursday, Eyewitness News caught up with Gray after she learned about the gift allowing her to have life-changing cataract surgery.

""Just the fact that people care about somebody they don't even know, is very nice," Gray says.

For the first time in life, Gray is excited for surgery.

"I've had many surgeries from cancer and I was never excited. But I am now," she says.

For months, Gray has navigated the streets of Wichita, homeless and blind. With the gift from Cyprus Surgery Center, she looks forward to the future and she's already setting goals.

"I'm looking forward to getting my own house and opening up my own catering business because I'm an excellent cook," Gray says.

She says she wants to see the ocean after her surgery and is also excited to finally see the Wichita police officers and others who have helped her over the past few weeks.


The Wichita Police Department's Homeless Outreach Team (HOT) is working with a survivor of sexual assault and battery that recently became vision impaired due to mature cataracts.

Because of her impairment she cannot work which makes her ineligible for rehousing programs.

Cataract surgery for both eyes could restore her vision to a place where she will once again be able to navigate the world independently- including gaining employment.

The HOT team is now asking the community to come together and help provide this surgery in a timely manner so that the resources available to her can be accessed and she can be safe."

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