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Corneas go waste as Bikaner eye bank lacks preservative

Medical experts say a cornea can be extracted within six hours of a donor’s death but needs to be immediately transferred to the M-K (McCarey-Kaufman) medium, where it can remain intact for up to four days, before transplant.

jaipur Updated: Nov 20, 2017 20:37 IST
Aparnesh Goswami
Aparnesh Goswami
Hindustan Times
Rajasthan,Eye donation,COrnea
Many harvested eyes are rendered useless as they are declared unfit for transplant.(HT FILE/REPRESENTATIVE PIC)

BIKANER:

An eye bank run by the Sardar Patel Medical College (SPMC) here has wasted 380 out of 470 donated corneas as it lacks a chemical solution used to preserve them, hospital sources said.

The eye bank has not got the preservative solution for the last five years since it has not renewed its licence. Of the 130 corneas collected during 2016-17, only 23 could be transplanted. This year, five corneas were used out of the 42 donated, the sources said.

Medical experts say a cornea can be extracted within six hours of a donor’s death but needs to be immediately transferred to the M-K (McCarey-Kaufman) medium, where it can remain intact for up to four days, before transplant.

The M-K medium, used to preserve the corneas, was not supplied by Hyderabad’s Eye Bank Association of India for the last five years. The bank cannot store the preservative without a licence, which expired in 2012, and authorities have forgot to renew it, the sources said.

“It (the preservative) is not coming from our supplier. We are exploring other avenues to buy the solution. Some documents are pending and formalities are yet to be fulfilled to get the licence renewed,” said Dr Jai Sri Murli Manohar, head of the ophthalmology department at Prince Bijaysingh Memorial (PBM) Hospital and the nodal officer of the eye bank.

Last wishes of some donors could not be fulfilled because of lack of the solution. “This is unbelievable; an eye bank at medical college level is running without the basic solution and licence. They should honour our sentiments,” said an upset Narendra Acharya who inspired his family to donate his younger brother Niranjan’s eyes, but his brother’s last wish went unfulfilled.

NGOs creating awareness about eye donation also feel discouraged at the non-utilisation of corneas. Experts say nearly 60% of the donated eye go waste in India. “Usually when the eyes are donated, they either get infected with diseases or are not stored in eye banks on time,” Murli Manohar said.

Many harvested eyes are rendered useless as they are declared unfit for transplant. Every donated eye is checked for diseases like HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis B before it is implanted. Though there is no dearth of eye donors, more transplants can’t be conducted due to a shortage of eye bank technicians and donation counsellors, experts said.

First Published: Nov 20, 2017 20:37 IST