Eye donations on the rise in state, only half usable - The New Indian Express

Eye donations on the rise in state, only half usable

Published: 01st October 2013 08:25 AM

Last Updated: 01st October 2013 01:00 PM

Medical experts have always been claiming that the State is leading in organ donations. Now, there’s more good news. The number of eye donations is also going up in the State.

Doctors said that this year, so far, there has been an increase of 1,200 donations. In 2012, about 6,700 eyes were harvested, while in the first eight months of 2013, eye donations have exceeded 7,900 and doctors say the number would go up by the end of the year. Thanks to the numerous awareness campaigns.

“Most people come voluntarily to donate their eyes. There are also counselors to create awareness on donation. The number is only gradually increasing,” said Dr Rajarathinam, Director, Government Ophthalmic Hospital, Egmore.

Despite the rise in the number of eye donations done in the state, doctors say only 50 to 55 per cent of them are transplanted. The rest are used for medical research purposes.

Last year, out of 7,900 harvested eyes, only 4,800 were used for transplantation while the rest found unfit were sent for research.

For eye transplants, the crucial part required is the cornea, a tissue divided into five layers. At times, the cornea would have become unusable for transplant due to injuries and damages to the cornea or the person, who donated the eyes, and could have died of infection that could have possibly affected the eye.

“The eyes of those persons who died of rabies, HIV or even severe diarrhoeal infections could also be infected. But when the kin come forward to donate the eyes with noble intentions, we cannot reject them even if it cannot be used. Sometimes, the eyes would be found unfit only after it is harvested. Even those eyes that were earlier operated will not be fit for transplant,” a doctor said.

Doctors explained that eyes have to be harvested from a deceased person within five to six hours and should be transplanted within 24 to 36 hours for good results. However, the hospitals including those that are government-run now have advanced facilities to store them for almost a week.

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