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Boy, 6, falls from tree, injures eye

Like most boys his age, 6-year-old Joshua Davis has always loved to monkey around and climb trees.

His latest tree-climbing episode, though, landed him in Bayfront Medical Center and may have cost him the vision in his right eye.

"You think of boys and you know they're always going to get hurt, but you never think it's going to be something so permanent and drastic," said Joshua's father, Keith Davis, 24, of Clearwater.

Joshua was climbing a tree in his neighbor's back yard in Clearwater about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. The next thing he knew a limb broke and he went crashing to the ground.

He was taken to Mease Hospital Dunedin in an ambulance. From there he was taken to Bayfront Medical Center by helicopter.so that he could receive treatment from a specialist in pediatric ophthalmology.

"They performed surgery immediately to see what they could save," said Joshua's mother, Cameo Davis, 24, of Clearwater. "I can see that his eye is black and blue and swollen, but I haven't even been able to look at it closely yet. It's too traumatic."

Dr. Frank Mendelblatt, chairman of ophthalmology at Bayfront Medical Center, performed the surgery.

"He lacerated his right eye, his upper eyelid and his nose. Extensive repair was necessary with stitches," Mendelblatt said. "The concern now is the outcome of the right eye and the potential for right eye vision. . . . It's very early to tell what will happen."

Although Joshua said he merely landed in the dirt at the foot of the tree, a portion of a chainlink fence near the tree is now badly broken, said Barbie Hurst, Ms. Davis' next-door neighbor and best friend. Because of this, no one is sure if Joshua's eye was scratched by a branch or by a sharp part of the fence.

Mendelblatt said Joshua should be able to go home soon but will have to stay home from kindergarten at Sandy Lane Elementary School in Clearwater for several weeks. Ms. Davis may have to miss school too. She is a full-time student at St. Petersburg Junior College and has two other children, Joseph, 4 and Jacqueline, 2.

"What worries us most are the things that are going to change for him," said Joshua's father. "He loves soccer and karate. . . . He loves school. We worry about his learning ability and his reading ability afterward. Cameo and I keep closing one eye to see the differences. There are a lot when you think about it."

"I'm really scared right now. I'm taking things one day at a time," Ms. Davis said. "I don't even know what my options are yet. All my concerns right now are just in this room."

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