Unable to meet the demand of corneas in the state, the Directorate of Medical Education and Research (DMER) last week sent a proposal to the state health ministry seeking permission to collect corneas from those who die accidental deaths without having to obtain consent of the deceased’s relatives.
Accidental deaths include people who die of injuries sustained in road or railway accidents or in a fall.
“Most people who wish to donate eyes die natural deaths after the age of 70. At that age, the cornea’s quality is not good. Usually, people who die an accidental death are between the age group of 20 to 50. If this proposal is put is made a law, lakh of people in need of eyes could benefit,” said Dr TP Lahane, dean of JJ Hospital.
Presently, among the 20 lakh people in the country who need corneas, two lakh people need them urgently, Dr Lahane added.
“However, there could be difficulty in enacting the law as it some people are opposed to doing away with the relatives’ consent before collecting the cornea. The cornea has to be collected within four hours after the death. It becomes even more difficult when there is a huge set of procedures to be followed,” said Dr Pravin Shingare, joint director of DMER. He added that there have been many instances where doctors couldn’t get to collect corneas even of those who wanted to donate them because they could not collect them within the four-hour span. Dr Shingare added that almost 50% of visually impaired in the state suffer from curable blindness.