In a country facing massive shortage of donor corneas, a family from Karnal has emerged as a ray of hope for those in need, as they donated the cornea of their less than two-hour-old baby after his death.
Eye experts said it was extremely rare that the aggrieved family got convinced for the donation under such circumstances.
On June 25 Manoj Singh and Nisha of Sector 6 here were blessed with a baby boy, but the celebrations did not last long and their baby died due to certain health complications at Kalpana Chawla Government Medical College and Hospital.
While the family was preparing for the last rites, a motivator from Madhav Eye Hospital, a state government-approved eye bank, approached the family for considering cornea donation.
“I requested Manoj to think once about those visually challenged individuals, who may get vision through their noble gesture. The aggrieved father closed his eyes, said a prayer and agreed,” Charanjit Bali, a motivator associated with the eye bank said.
Dr JP Chugh, senior professor, department of ophthalmology at Pandit Bhagwat Dyal Sharma Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Rohtak, told Hindustan Times that cornea of an infant could only be implanted on children of the same age-group, but not on adults.
“It is highly uncommon that parents agreed to donate eyes after losing their child within hours of his birth. Such parents should be adopted as role models in the society for eye donation campaigns,” he said.
Head of cornea section of Haryana's premier medical institute Dr Chugh said that India faces a massive shortage of cornea donation and the initiative taken by the Karnal family would have an impact on the society.
“No official study on shortfall in corneas is conducted in Haryana, but in India against an annual requirement of one lakh corneas, less than 40,000 remain available. Social and religious taboos are major hurdles behind poor availability,” he said.
However, Dr BK Thakur of Karnal's eye bank said: “I tried implanting the cornea on an adult on Wednesday, but had to drop the idea due to “friable” tissues. I could neither find any medical literature nor any doctor with relevant experience of implanting cornea of a child of such tender age. But the family's initiative will definitely help others to pledge eyes after death,” he said.