18 November, 2012
Reporter: Peter FitzSimons
Producer: Ali Russell
The world applauded three months ago when it was revealed that Australian scientists had successfully implanted a prototype bionic eye.
That first prototype device – developed by many of the researchers who produced the Cochlear implant featured on Sunday Night earlier this year - was implanted into Melbourne woman Dianne Ashworth, enabling her to see vague shapes for the first time since becoming blind 20 years ago.
Ashworth’s role as guinea pig is fast-tracking the development of the next device, which will be much more powerful and has the potential to transform the lives of millions around the world.
Among them – and a prime candidate to receive a bionic eye – is Rachael Leahcar, the blind teenager who captivated the nation as a contestant on The Voice.
However, on the cusp of medical history, the entire bionic eye project is threatened by a funding
crisis. So far, the Federal government has not committed to providing any more money, and when the funds Kevin Rudd gave as Prime Minister run out at the end of next year, key scientists will be forced to leave the project.
In this Sunday Night exclusive, Kevin Rudd risks the wrath of current Prime Minister Julia Gillard by telling Peter FitzSimons the government must continue to fund the development of the bionic eye.
Viewers wishing to donate money to help fund the project can visit Help Build the Bionic Eye.
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