The Telegraph
Monday , February 17 , 2014
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Eye-opener of a gesture
- Cornea of Hirakud mishap victim transplanted

A photograph of Seema, Ashok and the their children from the Agarwal family album

Bhubaneswar, Feb. 16: Even in death, 38-year-old Seema Agarwal, who died in last Sunday’s Hirakud boat tragedy, has lit up the life of an unknown beneficiary.

In a humanitarian gesture, her husband Ashok Agarwal, 46, and family members had donated Seema’s eyes soon after her death on February 9 and one of it has been successfully transplanted.

An eye surgeon of Veer Surendra Sai Medical College and Hospital, Burla, Ratanjit Agarwal, who was in the team that conducted the operation, said: “According to the law and ethics of the medical profession, we disclose neither names of the beneficiaries, nor the date of transplantation. But it is true that one of the two eyes of Seema has been successfully transplanted. Another eye has been preserved for transplantation. We are looking for the right beneficiary.”

The doctor praised Seema’s family members, who, despite the trauma, came forward to donate her eyes. Corneas have to retrieved within six hours of a person’s death.

“As the death happened by drowning, we had to take extra care while removing the corneas,” said the ophthalmologist.

The Hirakud tragedy has devastated the Agarwal family. They have lost Seema and their youngest son Harish, 8. But they showed exemplary courage in deciding to donate Seema’s eyes.

A grief-stricken Ashok said: “My wife, sons — Rajat, 13, and Harish — and I were on the ill-fated boat. While Rajat and I managed to survive, my wife and Harish died in front of our eyes.”

Ashok, who has a crusher unit in Sambalpur, said the suggestion to donate the eyes came from his 73-year-old father, Awatar.

“My father suggested that eyes of Seema be donated. I agreed, as I wanted to do something good. When I told my elder son Rajat about it, he also agreed.”

Ashok’s family members immediately contacted the VSS medical college and sought their help.

Ashok said he was happy that someone would be able to see the world through the eyes of Seema.

“Rajat and I have decided not to inquire about the beneficiary,” said Ashok.

Recalling the good times spent with Seema, Ashok said that they had planned to visit Puri on February 11 to celebrate their 17th marriage anniversary.

“Everything was shattered just two days ahead of our marriage anniversary,” said Ashok.

Govind Agarwal, a member of the Lions Club, praised the family’s gesture.

“We cannot bring back those who have lost their lives, but the way Ashok’s family came forward to help others is exemplary,” Govind said.

Thirty-one people had lost their lives in the Hirakud dam mishap that made Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi reschedule his Odisha tour programme and fly to Sambalpur to be by the side of the families of the bereaved.

Boat owner held

Police today arrested Satyananda Pandey, owner of the capsized vessel, and another boatman, Anjan Parua. Earlier, the police had arrested boatman Akshya Rana. All of them said that the picnickers did not listen to their request of climbing into the vessel in such large numbers. The vessel had capsized due to overloading.

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