Gujarat accounts for 30% eye donation
Despite several campaigns to promote eye donation, only 20,000 eyes are collected every year in India.Updated: Sep 06, 2006 11:48 IST
Despite several campaigns to promote eye donation, only 20,000 eyes are collected every year throughout the country, of which Gujarat accounts for around 6,000.
"This is a sad state of affairs. There are 12 million blind people in India, of whom four million are corneally blind. However, our eye collections have been abysmally low, compared to the number of people dying every year," said Dr PN Nagpal, of the Ahmedabad Retina Foundation, while addressing a press conference.
He said infrastructure is a problem as there are only 400 eye banks in the whole country and just 10 in Gujarat, with five of them in Ahmedabad alone.
He said that we are now stressing upon increasing the number of eye collection centres, which can do the collections and send them to eye banks.
"It is a shame that we still have to import eyes from Sri Lanka, which is 1/4th or even less of India's size," he said.
Talking about the high rate of eye donations in Gujarat, Dr Nagpal said Gujaratis are known for their benevolence. "Be it Orissa floods or tsunami in Andamans, Gujarat is always ready with help. This could be the reason why we see a major chunk of eyes from this state."
Stressing that more and more people should come forward and pledge their eyes, Dr Nagpal said that it was, however not enough since after death the relatives and the state would have to give their consent in the matter. "While the State has given a blanket permission, the need of the hour is to spread awareness among people that in one death, two persons get a new lease of life," he added.
He said the Foundation is promoting the concept of 'Grief Counsellors' who will be trained to approach the relatives and convince them to go for eye and other organ donations of the dead.
For the present, one counsellor had been sent to Hyderabad for necessary training.
Also addressing the conference, Priyavardhan Shah of Action Group, which is actively involved in the eye collection movement, said the Group will solicit the support of religious leaders who can influence people to donate their eyes.
Announcing a series of awareness programmes, Dr Nagpal said the Foundation has organised a 'Run for Sight' on September 8, which is the 'Eye donation Day'.
It will be flagged off by Gujarat Health Minister Ashok Bhatt and Mayor Amit Shah. Governor Nawal Kishore Sharma will also be present at the event. A slogan writing competition is also being held on the occasion.`