| Nilamani Sen Deka |
Guwahati, Aug. 8: Assam has witnessed a rise in the number of eye donors this year, bringing a ray of hope for thousands who are visually challenged.
Assam cabinet minister Nilamani Sen Deka today informed the Assembly that the Regional Institute of Ophthalmology at Gauhati Medical College and Hospital had received 14 corneas from January to July this year. The figure is expected to rise further, he said. The institute had received 10 corneas in 2012 and four in 2013.
The eye bank at the Regional Institute of Ophthalmology has 4,000 registered people who have signed for cornea donation. He said besides the institute, Assam Medical College and Hospital in Dibrugarh, Silchar Medical College and Hospital and Chandra Prabha Eye Hospital in Jorhat are equipped to perform keratoplasty, a surgical procedure to replace host cornea with a donor cornea.
“Statistics indicate that the level of awareness among people about the noble deed of donating eyes after their deaths, is increasing. The government will observe an eye donation fortnight from August 25 to September 8 to motivate more people to come forward to take the pledge for eye donation,” Deka said.
Deka, who was responding to the issue of organ donation during the zero hour of the budget session of the Assembly this morning, on behalf of health minister Nazrul Islam, said superstitions still pose a hurdle in the way of popularising eye donations in the state, despite efforts made by the government and NGOs to promote awareness.
Congress legislator Durlav Chandra Chamua while raising the issue said the biggest challenge the government and NGOs are facing is the negative attitude of the people towards eye and other human organs. He said many other states are fast catching up with certain developed countries in giving a new lease of life to people waiting for an organ transplant by popularising the organ donation project. “The government needs to set up a state-of-art organ donation bank to preserve organs for transplantation. Many precious lives could be saved by setting up a bank,” Chamua said.
Deka replied that Gauhati Medical College and Hospital, International Hospital and Down Town Hospital have facilities for kidney transplant. He said these hospitals have successfully performed kidney transplants on many patients.
Deka said the recurring expenditures to purchase medicine by low-income group patients after their post-transplant period is borne by the state government under a health department scheme.