08 April 2013
Though Maharashtra leads in the number of corneas taken from the deceased due to the high number of donations, almost 70% of the corneas taken are of no use to the visually challenged in the state, health minister Suresh Shetty said in the state legislative council in a written reply to a question posed by MLCs.
Replying to a question on whether the government didn’t have the machinery to harvest corneas to help the visually challenged, Shetty said the state had enough machinery but all of last year and till January 2013 as many as 5,587 corneas were taken of which only 2,033 (37%) could be transplanted. Around 1,622 were used for training and research, and around 1,932 were of no use for various reasons.
Maharashtra had emerged as a leading state under the National Programme of Control of Blindness (NPCB) by getting more than 5,000 corneas from the deceased under the NPCB during 2008-09.
Despite the large number of donations, the state is not able to meet the transplant needs of the number visually challenged people as, every year, there is a need for 10,000 corneas.
Besides, even among the ones harvested a large number are useless for several reasons, including poor quality, donation not taking place within six hours of death of the person, use or transplant not done within 72 hours and corneas belonging to patients who have been on ventilator for more than 72 hours.
In several cases, the person from whom the cornea has been transplanted suffers from diseases, such as Aids, active viral hepatitis, rabies, active meningitis, ocular meningitis and active septicemia.
Listing the measures taken for eye donation and harvesting, Shetty said, “The state observes an eye donation week and also employs counsellors in the hope of encouraging donations. Besides, the state also provides a sum of Rs1,500 as grant to private eye banks for harvesting and storing corneas, and Rs1,000 is given to NGOs for a successful transplant to voluntary organisations.”