With the world gearing up to celebrate the World Organ Donation Day on Tuesday, Punjab has something to add to the cheer. The state’s health and family welfare department has recorded an increase of almost 19% in eye donations, data on its website shows.
The department collected over 1,517 corneas in 2018-19 (April 1 to March 31); in 2017-18, the number was 1,274, which was just 1.3% increase over the 2016-17 figure of 1,257. Ludhiana recorded the highest corneal donations at 382, followed by Amritsar (267) and Jalandhar (173).
Experts have attributed the spurt to a 2015 campaign to clear backlog of cases requiring corneal transplant (keratoplasty). Dr Rakesh Kumar Gupta, director, chemical examiner lab, department of home affairs and justice, Punjab, said, “This campaign was appreciated around the globe and was successful with the help of all stakeholders that includes corneal surgeons, medical officers, NGOs and donors.”
Gupta added that the School of Public Health, PGI Chandigarh, had recently held consultations and proposed Hospital Cornea Retrieval Programme (HCRP) to increase the availability of healthy donor corneas for successful corneal transplantation. Under HCRP, eye banks are linked with hospitals and they take steps to approach family members of patients, who die in hospitals to donate eyes. It is an efficient method to increase the availability of good quality transplantable donor corneas, compared to voluntary cornea donation.
It has been recommended that Information, Education and Communication (IEC) material regarding eye donation and list of eye banks be displayed in all government and corporate hospitals and mortuaries. DGPs of all states and UTs may send a circular to all district police heads to allow removal of eyeballs/cornea before post-mortem is undertaken and also motivate families of the deceased and inform a local eye specialist. “There are several other recommendations that are part of the proposal,” he said.
LUDHIANA HAS SURPLUS CORNEAS
The utilisation rate of cornea donated is around 70% in the state, data recorded under the National Programme for Control of Blindness and Visual Impairment shows; 1,035 transplants were done against the 1,500-odd donated. In Ludhiana, the utilisation rate is around 49% with 186 corneal transplantations of 382 eye donations, with not many patients coming forward.
An eye specialist from Ludhiana, Dr Ramesh Chand, who is also associated with the Punarjot Eye Bank Society, said, “We have surplus cornea, but there are few patients for eye transplantation. We are visiting neighbouring states and also generating awareness so that the needy can take benefit.”