Ramayamma International Eye Bank is observing the Eye Donation Fortnight between August 25 and September 8, providing an opportunity for concerned people to pledge their eyes.
FOR A CAUSE: Donate your eyes to better the lives of the visually impaired.
WHEN YOU hear of "eye donation'' what exactly goes through your mind? Are you open to the idea or do you have some nagging doubts ? If you do, watch how quickly these vanish when you are in need of sight yourself or for your loved one. In the shoes of a recipient, you realise why every thinking person needs to give "eye donation'' a serious thought.
When Sujan lost his mother two months ago, little did he imagine the respect she would command in death. In accordance with her wish, Sujan notified The Ramayamma International Eye Bank within an hour of her demise. "They were there immediately and after a simple procedure her cornea was removed. My family was deeply touched by the eye bank's gesture of bringing the first garland for my mother. Although the light of our family was no more, we were consoled by the fact that her eyes would provide light for two needy people. My mother opened the eyes of not just her family but all the relatives and friends who attended her funeral,'' says Sujan.
More than two million Indians are affected by corneal blindness and 60 per cent of them are below age 12. The cornea - the dome shaped outermost layer is clear so as to allow light into the eye and curvature helps focus the light rays. The cornea can be affected at any age by disease, infection, trauma, injury from sudden impact, chemicals or sharp objects. In most cases a person with corneal blindness can regain vision through a corneal transplant. This is made possible when a healthy cornea received from a deceased donor replaces the damaged cornea. This makes eye donation imperative and the only solution to restore sight to these patients. The cornea was one of the first parts of the body to be transplanted. Hence it is one of the most common and also the most successful of all transplants. In L.V.Prasad alone, the number of cornea transplants increased from 349 in 1996 to 1021 in 2001, and 450 patients are awaiting cornea transplants as of June 2002.
Anand Kumar, in his early Fifties has a successful Chartered Accountancy practice. He works long hours each day and indulges in many other activities. With a passion for trekking, he is determined to undertake the formidable Amarnath trek. A regular at the gym, he enjoys walking and studying languages. Fifteen years ago Kumar was diagnosed with the eye disorder of Keratoconus - where the cornea changes shape and pushes outward like a cone causing blurring. His power went up to a shocking - 38 in the right eye and even contact lenses were not of much use. Doctors advised him to go in for a corneal transplant. "After the surgery, I was able to see clearly and life was normal again, and in 2001, I had my left eye transplanted as well. Back in the Seventies, people had to go overseas for a corneal transplant, but now this facility is available here. To have sight and lose it forever is tragic but to lose one's sight and regain it is truly a blessing.''
A person of any age can pledge to donate his eyes -- people with poor eyesight, diabetes or hypertension can also be donors. Family consent is essential and the next of kin should be well aware of the procedures. Timing is crucial as the corneas must be removed within eight hours of death and preferably used within three days. Eye banks work round the clock and have trained personnel to remove the cornea by a procedure known as In-Situ. Corneal excision takes about 20 minutes and causes no disfigurement to the face of the donor. The donor cornea is subjected to medical evaluation and those that are suitable are used for transplantation while others are invaluable for research. Persons suffering from AIDS, jaundice, rabies, syphillis, tetanus and viral diseases are considered unfit for donation.
The Ramayamma International Eye Bank, part of the L.V.Prasad Eye Institute is a non-profit organisation, which is dedicated to the recovery, evaluation, preservation and distribution of eyes, donated by humanitarian citizens for transplantation, research and education. Eye Donation Fortnight is observed every year between August 25 and September 8. During this fortnight they work towards increasing awareness and educating the public about eye donation. Presentations to schools and colleges are undertaken besides distribution of publicity material in hospitals, commercial complexes etc. Educating individual community groups is the next programme on their cards.
Interested people can call the Ramayyamma Eye Bank for more details on 3548266. Log on to firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information.
PADMINI B PATELL
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