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Family says "miracle drug" improved son's chances of successful surgery for childhood glaucoma

Family says "miracle drug" improved son's chances of successful surgery for childhood glaucoma
Family says "miracle drug" improved son's chances of successful surgery for childhood glaucoma 03:11

BOSTON - It's been over two years since the I-Team first introduced WBZ viewers to Tate Decker and his brothers. At the time, Tate was just four years old. Born with cataracts he was later diagnosed with childhood glaucoma. He needed Phospholine Iodide drops to control the pressure in his right eye.

Holly Decker, Tate's mom, called it a "miracle drug." But, in 2021, Pfizer, the manufacturer of the drops and the company that made billions from the COVID-19 vaccine, announced it would discontinue the drops severely impacting families like the Deckers. 

The I-Team reached out to Pfizer. The company told us that few children were using the drops, and alternative treatments were available. Tate's doctor, Dr. David Walton, a pediatric ophthalmologist in Boston disagreed, telling the I-Team the drops were uniquely effective in treating Tate's special form of glaucoma. 

Tate Decker
Tate Decker CBS Boston

Months after the I-Team's investigation, Pfizer had a change of heart. They secured FDA approval to extend the shelf life of the drops in their inventory and agreed to assist a new company in manufacturing the drug. The Deckers called it "a blessing" for kids like Tate. 

Keeping the drops available has been a lifesaver for Tate and other children with similar conditions, allowing them to delay potential risky surgeries and bought them time to improve their chances of success if and when they did need it. Unfortunately, the drops stopped working for Tate, and he will now need surgery on his right eye. 

Holly and Joe Decker say the odds of success are now 85-90%, much higher than they were two years ago. 

The Decker family has a lot of confidence in Tate's doctor. Dr. Walton has been with him since birth and is determined to ensure Tate's successful recovery. He told the I-Team he deserves to live his life with two good eyes not one. 

Tate, now six and a half years old, is an active little boy who does well in school and plays three sports. He has undergone nine surgeries already. He understands what another surgery means. "I'm nervous about the surgery," he said. 

Brave beyond his years, Tate will be attending the Childrens Glaucoma Foundation Gala this weekend. His surgery is scheduled for next week. For more information about the foundation visit

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