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Blind Girl, 8, Sees Colors After Stem Cell Treatments

An 8-year-old blind girl who is undergoing stem cell treatments in China can now see colors, her family says.

Savannah Watring, of Syracuse, flew to China with her father, Brent Watring; grandmother RaVana Watring; and aunt Shonna Millsap on July 23 and has received four treatments, with three more scheduled. Her family plans to return to the U.S. on Aug. 28.

Her aunt Sherla Hagerman, of Fortuna, said that Savannah is picking up on blue, green and red colors.

"She saw herself in the mirror; not knowing it was her, she said hello," said Hagerman, who gets updates on Savannah's progress through a Web site, www.sightforsavannah.com, and through daily e-mails and occasional telephone calls. "She said hello to herself in an elevator (after seeing her reflection). It blew everyone away. We weren't expecting that."

Savannah was born with optic nerve hypoplasia, the leading cause of blindness in children.

It happens when the optic nerve fails to develop in utero, but doctors aren't sure what causes the condition. Swedish researchers found that it occurs in 10.9 children per 10,000.