The National Programme for Control of Blindness (NPCB) estimates that there are around 1,20,000 corneal blind persons in the country and about 20,000 to 30,000 cases get added every year.
At 1,844 corneas, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) recorded its highest ever donations in 2017, according to the data from the National Eye Bank. The donor corneas are transplanted in people with corneal blindness.
The National Programme for Control of Blindness (NPCB) estimates that there are around 1,20,000 corneal blind
persons in the country and about 20,000 to 30,000 cases get added every year.
Dr Rajendra Prasad Centre for Ophthalmic Sciences, which runs the National Eye Bank in AIIMS, also recorded a utilisation rate higher than the country’s average.
“Last year, 1,285 corneal transplant surgeries were carried out at the centre using 1,844 donor corneas. That is a utilisation rate of 70%,” Dr JS Titiyal, chairman, National Eye Bank, said.
Nationally, in the financial year 2017-18, a total of 57,138 corneas were collected and 26,143 transplant surgeries were carried out, according to the Eye Bank Association of India. That is a utilisation of less than 46%.
This increase in the number of donations and utilisation is a result of the new Hospital Cornea Retrieval Programme (HCRP), officials said.
“The hospital has put in place a system wherein all deaths are notified in real-time to the ORBO (Organ Retrieval Banking Organisation). So, a counsellor can immediately get in touch with the family and tell them about the organ and tissue donation. This prompt system has led to 40% of families of eligible patients agreeing to donate corneas,” Dr Aarti Vij, chief of ORBO, said.
Sixty percent of all the corneas retrieved by the National Eye Bank was through the hospital cornea retrieval programme, which resulted in good quality donor corneas.
“The utilisation rate of corneas increases if the quality is good. As per the guidelines, the sooner the tissue is collected after the death of a patient, the better. For the donor corneas to be in a good condition, there is a window
of about six to eight hours after death, without preservation of the body, and up to 12 hours if the body is properly preserved,” Dr Titiyal said.