Friday, November 20, 2009

Eye donation follow-up

I wrote an article sometime back and in the course of my research, I talked to a large number of doctors, grief counsellors, eye banks, cornea recipients and donor families.

Here are somethings I discovered and these I am sharing with you.

1)What is eye donation?


Eye donation essentially means recovering the cornea, the transparent cover on the pupil. This part is transplanted on the recipient to improve / restore vision. Donation from one person gets two corneas, that are used separately on two persons.

2) Who can benefit?

Cornea transplant is necessary when the cornea gets damaged due to prolonged illness, neglect and poor treatment. Doctors said that poor patients from rural areas form the biggest chunk of cornea recipients because often they approach a doctor when the damage is already done. Some patients born with congenital cornea defects can also benefit from eye donations.

In some cases, a cornea transplant is also used as therapeutic grafting to aid in healing of damaged tissue.

Contrary to my notion, eye donations thus do not cure all kinds of blindness, but only corneal blindness.

3) Initiatives:

Under the Hospital Cornea Retrieval Programme (HCRP), grief counsellors are appointed at hospitals where about 6-7 deaths occur daily. These counsellors approach the bereaved family and suggest eye donation. Donations have drastically gone up at places where HCRP has been implemented.

As of now, grief counsellors, appointed by NGOs, are paid paltry amounts. Under the 11th five-year plan, government has come up with grants for grief counsellors.

Whose eyes cannot be used for transplant:

Eyes of a person who has died of slow virus diseases like AIDS; Mad cow disease, Rabies, Hepatitis, Encephalitis, Septicemia, Snake bite, Tetanus, Luekaemia, or had certain eye infections, iritis (inflammation of anterior segment of eye), low corneal endothelial counts cannot be used for corneal transplant.

Statistics:

About 1.1 million people suffer from corneal blindness in India and families of only about 15000 people consented for eye donation in 2008.



Source: Eye Bank Association of India

Points to remember:

Eye must be removed within six hours of death

Gently suggest eye donation to a calm person of the bereaved family, if possible after 30 minutes of 'grief window'. By this time, the family has actually accepted the death

Contact the nearest eye collection centre immediately

The removal takes 10-15 minutes and is free

It can be done at home or any other place where the body is kept

It does not disfigure the face

Eye donation by a single person helps restore sight of two corneal blind people

Religious leaders throughout the world have voiced their support

Source: Doctors, National Program for Control of Blindness website

Related posts:

Eye donation follow-up 1

Hope amidst grief

The End of an Era

7 comments:

G said...

Nice initiative Gauri. I read the linked posts too. Your family seems quite aware of such things. Mainly it is imperative that the close relatives act accordingly.
The impact of grief caused due to death might sometimes affect the cause. But at least one in 10 cases might help.

Bhagyashree said...

gauri if the eye nerves are damaged but the eyes are ok, can the eyes be donated? or the eyes r affected too bcoz of lessened usage?

Gauri Gharpure said...

G-- yes.. most of the times, relatives / friends do not suggest this out of strange social inhibitions. a grief counsellor fills up this vacuum.

Bhagyashree-- tht's a very technical question.. a doctor wud help you better :)

indianhomemaker said...

We have pledged our eyes, the entire family...
As you have suggested the grieving family must be approached and reminded. Even those who have pledged their cornea tend to forget about it at the time. We didn't even think of it when we lost my dad recently. Two people could have benefited.

Solilo said...

Gauri, Just read this piece from you http://epaper.timesofindia.com/Default/Scripting/ArticleWin.asp?From=Archive&Source=Page&Skin=TOINEW&BaseHref=TOIKM/2009/11/22&ViewMode=GIF&GZ=T&PageLabel=2&EntityId=Ar00201&AppName=1

Nicely written.

Solilo said...

Gauri, Just read 'Senior citizens and blogging' on TOI.

Nicely written.

Gauri Gharpure said...

IHM--- the NGO person asked me if i cud write up about eye donation more often, like say every 2-3 months for lack of awareness is the biggest hurdle.. respecting the old man's gentle request, the least i can do is blog abt it as often

Solilo-- thanks for reading up both the articles :)