Doctors told a Valley mother she would never see again. But Dafne Gutierrez can now see her children’s faces with 20-20 vision.
Her recovery has drawn national attention, and members of the Maronite Catholic Church consider it evidence of a divine act.
struggling with medical issues, Gutierrez went blind in her right eye
in 2012. She says she lost vision completely in both eyes in November
A physician diagnosed Gutierrez with benign intracranial hypertension –
a condition where pressure in the brain mounts for no obvious reason,
said Dr. Anne Borik, an internist who reviewed Gutierrez’s case and
medical files for the church.
"This is a condition where the
pressure in the brain is so high that oftentimes it strangulates the
optic nerves," said Dr. Borik. "Unfortunately once the blindness occurs,
That was a crushing diagnosis for the mother of four.
me, I was like, 'Please God, let me see those faces again. Let me be
their mother again.' Because I feel like [my kids] were watching me,
taking care of me 24-7," Gutierrez said.
In January 2016, she took those prayers to St. Joseph Maronite Catholic Church in Phoenix after
learning that relics of Saint Charbel, a Lebanese monk, would be
visiting the small church. She says she visited the church, confessed to
Father Wissam Akiki, and prayed over the relics.
"I felt my body different," she said.
Gutierrez returned the following day for Sunday mass, and said she experienced a similar feeling.
The next morning, she woke up in pain.
"I was just wiping my eyes, and I'm like, 'They burn! They burn!'"
morning, Jan. 18, Gutierrez said her eyesight started to return.
days later, doctors confirmed her eyesight was completely restored.
took her to actually two other specialists to look at the eyes and see
how can we explain this medically, and in fact there was really no
medical explanation," said Borik.
Maronite Bishop A. Elias Zaidan described Gutierrez’s recovery as a “healing” by St. Charbel.
this healing of the sight of Dafne be an inspiration for all of us to
seek the spiritual sight, in order to recognize the will of God in our
lives and to act accordingly," he wrote in a newsletter.
the 18th of every month, St. Joseph Maronite Church now has a special
ceremony in honor of St. Charbel. Father Akiki says hundreds now turn
“We're having people coming to St. Joseph Maronite Catholic
Church from Germany, Bolivia, Canada, Australia, Jerusalem,” he said.
“Really what happened here changed the faith and the face of our
The church is in the process of a building a shrine to
St. Charbel across from its sanctuary.
Akiki said the shrine, complete
with a 3-ton stone statute from Lebanon, should be completed next month.