Fla. doctor giving mauled girl free artificial eye

FORT MYERS, Fla. — A 3-year-old Mississippi pit bull attack victim whose family says a KFC restaurant asked them to leave because her appearance disturbed customers is expected to get a free prosthetic eye from a Florida doctor.

Victoria Wlcher is meeting with doctors and prosthetics specialists in Naples, Fla., this week in preparation to receive an acrylic eye to replace her right one lost in the dog attack.

Raymond Peters, owner of the Center for Custom Prosthetics in Naples, said the 3-year-old will likely have a the new eye by Friday.

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Artificial eyes usually cost between $1,500 and $4,500 and, in the case of growing children, must be refitted every six months or so.

"I've got a lot of empathy for children, always have," Peters said. "I can imagine what that child's going through because I've been in this business long enough."

Peters' offer followed a flood of donations and offers of help for Victoria after the girl's grandmother reportedly claimed they had been kicked out of a KFC restaurant in Mississippi — a charge KFC has strongly denied and others have called a hoax.

KFC still offered to donate $30,000 to the family, which would add to the reportedly $135,000 in donations that have already flooded in since May. A Las Vegas cosmetic surgeon has also offered his services to help the girl for free.

Peters said the claimed restaurant incident, made up or not, would have no effect on his decision to provide the girl an eye.

Victoria arrived in Naples on Monday with her mother, Tina, and Janet Kellum, stepmother of a Mississippi attorney working with the family on this case. Tina Wilcher declined to speak with reporters.

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Kellum, who has known the family for about two weeks, spoke on their behalf. She would not talk about the KFC incident. The family has otherwise stood by its version of events.

Kellum said Victoria's health does seem to be improving.

"She is talking so much better," Kellum said. "In just two weeks I've seen a lot of recovery.

Victoria will undergo an extensive examination Tuesday so she can be fitted for the new eye. Peters will make a mold for the artificial eye and will paint in the iris by hand. He estimates it will take about six to 10 hours of work for a single eye.

Peters said will continue to offer new fittings as the girl ages. She will likely need 20 replacements by the time she is a teenager, he said.

"We're going to be able to help her," Peters said. "But it's going to be a long journey."


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