Jamshedpur Eye Hospital works with Roshni and Eye Bank Association of India to transplant corneas. (Bhola Prasad)
East Singhbhum police will convince families of those who die in road accidents to permit corneal transplant of victims.
The move, if it succeeds, will give a major boost to eye donation in Jharkhand at a time when those working in the field complain of dismal collection figures.
Police departments of Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, New Delhi and Haryana already work in tandem with eye banks. In the East Singhbhum pilot project, the police will tell bereaved families how the eyes of the dead could literally live on through other people and gift them precious vision.
If the families happen to agree, the police will get in touch with Jamshedpur-based Roshni, which will send its experts within six hours from the time of death and conduct corneal transplant that takes just 15 to 20 minutes.
The idea sprung from Roshni and Eye Bank Association of India that work with Jamshedpur Eye Hospital for cornea transplant. Members spoke to DGP Jharkhand G.S. Rath who in turn asked East Singhbhum SSP Akhilesh Kumar Jha to tell officers across 17 thanas under him on the plan.
“The idea came up when I attended a workshop in Barrackpore last week organised by Eye Bank Association of India jointly with Disha Hospital and Prova Eye Bank. I learnt eye hospitals receive on an average over 1,000 corneal donations a year where police departments chip in by linking bereaved families with cornea collection experts. We thought, why not do it in Jamshedpur,” said Rajnish Kumar, Roshni member who has recently received life membership from Eye Bank Association of India.
Kumar added that he learnt during the meet that the US had 78 accredited eye banks that annually collected 55,000 corneas, while India had 749 accredited eye banks that acquired a mere 20,000.
With around 1.1 million people afflicted with bilateral blindness or loss of sight in both eyes and 5.6 million suffering from lack of vision in one eye, corneal transplant is a pressing need in India.
But across the country, and Jharkhand is no exception, most people don’t know about corneal donation.
In elite urban pockets, many pledge their eyes. But when they die, family members are too grief-stricken to remember calling up the eye bank. Even if they do remember, many suffer from superstitions.
Many even assume that corneal transplant disfigures the face of the dead.
In this scenario, transplants from road accident victims will definitely shore up numbers. For instance, 53 fatal road accidents occurred in Jamshedpur in 2011. In comparison, around 34 people in the city are waiting for transplants.
“Requesting relatives of fatal accident victims to permit corneal transplant, getting them to agree and then informing the eye bank experts is a very noble task. I found this a very positive sphere where the police can make an active contribution,” said SSP Jha.
Will the kin of road accident victims listen to the police?