Eye Donation for Corneal Blindness
The greatest blessing comes from giving sight to a blind person. Imagine the world of a person who cannot see-a world of darkness, without hope. God has blessed all of us with eyes. But some of the less fortunate persons cannot see through them. Most of the blind are unable to earn a living. They are forced to depend on others. But, for some of these carnally blind persons, there is hope. This hope comes from the kindness of persons who are blessed with good eyesight, who will donate their eyes when they are of no use (after death). This great act of charity costs nothing. What is being donated is useless to the donor after death.
The blessings this donation brings are fantastic what blessings can be more than the heartfelt thanks of two persons who are now able to see. You have the power to bring immense joy: To give sight to the blind.
What is ‘corneal’ blindness? Cornea is the front transparent skin cover which keeps dust and dirt out of the eye. It is like the windscreen of a car; if it is damaged, vision is lost.
How many of the blind persons in India are ‘carnally’ blind? Out of the 1.5 Crore blind persons, 20 per cent (Le. 30 lakh persons) are ‘carnally’ blind, who can actually start seeing if their defective cornea is replaced.
How can carnally blind persons be made to see? By merely replacing the damaged cornea with a good cornea, these carnally blind persons can begin to see.
What causes corneal blindness? The main causes are: eye infections not attended in time, eye injuries, and malnutrition. A very large percentage of carnally blind are children from poor families.
‘Is there any artificial substitute for a damaged cornea? No; despite all the advances of science, there is no artificial substitute invented so far to replace a human cornea.
When can a person donate the cornea? Corneas can be removed only after death, when they are of absolutely no use to the dead person.
Can eyes be donated without affecting the appearance of the face? The face retains the same look even after the eyes are removed. There is no trace of the eyes having been removed.
How long does it take? The actual removal takes just 15 to 20 minutes.
Within how much time should this be done? As soon as possible after the death certificate is made; preferably within three hours, and maximum six hours of death.
What needs to be done to donate the eyes? If death occurs in a hospital, request the person making the death certificate to give consent form. Two persons who are relatives/ close friends of the deceased and who are present at that time should sign this consent form. The doctor on duty will then arrange for the enucleating.
Keep the eyes closed, covered with cold wet cloth or ice compress, in a cool area (but not directly under a fan). Keep the head raised by putting a pillow under the head. The death certificate and the consent form must be completed before enucleating.
Facts about Eye Donation
Eyes are never removed from a living person. They can be removed only after death certificate is issued, and the consent form is signed by two close relatives or friends of the deceased.
Eyes can be donated even of persons who wear spectacles or have had cataract surgery.
Corneas cannot be used for transplantation if the patient suffered from AIDS, hepatitis B or C, rabies, septicemia (white blood cell count over 15,000), active leukemia, and cancer of head, neck or face.
Eyes can be donated even if they have not been pledged earlier.
Eyes donated by one person give sight to two carnally blind persons. ‘Enucleation’ is the process for removing the eyes. It does not disfigure the face. The entire eye is enucleated and transported to the processing centre, where the cornea is skillfully separated and evaluated before processing for reuse. There is no charge payable by the donor. Enucleation is done free of cost. There is a processing charge.
Eyes are given for transplantation in accordance with a priority list. Mumbai has a state-of- the-art cornea processing and enucleation facility. ‘The Eye Bank Coordination and Research Centre’, which is affiliated with the International Federation of Eye and Tissue Bank of Baltimore, USA, is a charitable organization. There are many more eye banks in all states specially attached to eye units of Medical Colleges. They are listed in telephone directories with special dial nos.
What can you do?
- Decide to donate your and your family’s eyes.
- Donate eyes of your near and dear departed ones.
- Create awareness of cornea retrieval.
- Contribute you-mite for cornea retrieval project.
All donations are tax exempt.
All religions teach us to do well, to help the poor and the needy. ‘Blessed is he who gives, for his will be the kingdom of heaven: Let your near and dear ones get the biggest blessing of all by giving the gift of sight to the blind. Let eye donations become your family tradition.
Lab-grown Cornea (Cloning of Cornea)-Molecular Biologist’s Dream Less Invasive Approach
This technique could help perhaps tens of thousands of people in all countries where the disease called trachoma is common, said Dr Neil F. Martin of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Trachoma is one of the world’s leading causes of blindness.
Doctors already transplant corneas directly from one person/ s eye to another by corneal graft. The new approach requires only tiny silver from the donor’s limbos; those cells are then grown in a laboratory dish until they are ready for transplant.
Dr Ivan Schwab, co-author of the DC Davis Study and the Journal editorial said that the ability to grow cornea tissue is “a unique and important step” toward the goal of producing” off-Use-shelf” cornea replacement tissue.
A thicker layer is eventually produced, which is tough enough to be transplanted. Of the 14 patients at DC Davis, 10 had improved vision. Professor Ivan Schwab, who led the research, said: “The criteria we had been improved vision with no recurrence of disease and we did return some vision.”