Pvt Eye Banks Race Ahead in Collection of Corneas
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09 April 2010
By Umesh Isalkar
Counsellors Who Convince The Dead Person’s Kin To Donate Eyes Absent In State–run Hospitals
Eye donation, promoted as an feel–good act after death, has been taken up by private and government hospitals in the city in the last few years.
However, where small and medium–sized eye banks have scored in collection of corneas, large state government–run hospitals have failed miserably.
Statistics show that the Sassoon General Hospital collected only 24 corneas between April 2009 and March 2010 despite being among the largest hospitals in western Maharashtra. District hospitals too had a poor contribution.
“Sassoon’s contribution to the collection of corneas is very small. A local private eye banks garners more than 100 corneas a year. As per the collection data of 2009–2010, Sassoon collected only 24 corneas,” said district ophthalmic surgeon Ashok Mahadik. Eye banks get Rs 750 for every cornea collected.
“One of the prime reasons for such poor performance can be the absence of counsellors in government hospitals who persuade and convince relatives of the deceased to donate the eyes,” added Mahadik.
It is here that private eye banks scored. They have dedicated counsellors who talk to relatives and get them to donate the dead person’s eyes. Sassoon and district hospitals have no such officials.
The state government has taken steps to encourage eye donations at district hospitals. “In a recent circular to district hospitals, the directorate of health services has asked ward incharge nurses and doctors issuing death certificates to persuade relatives of the dead to donate eyes. Sindhudurg and Washim have started collecting a good number of corneas. Other districts will follow,” said joint director (blindness) Ashok Potdar.
Illiteracy, myths and superstitions stop weaker sections from donating their eyes. “It is among several reasons for poor collection at district hospitals,” he said.
Ward incharge nurses are the ones whom relatives of patients are well–acquainted with and hence they can persuade them for eye donation if there is a death, said Potdar. Similarly, doctors issuing death certificates can also play a big role. “During the course of treatment, the doctor develops close ties with relatives and he too has a fair chance of changing the hearts of relatives towards eye donation,” Potdar added.
1,267 corneas till March
une district collected 1,267 corneas in the state between April
P2009 and March 2010. As many as 1,174 corneas were primarily collected by private eye banks while government–run hospitals collected only 93. Sassoon general hospital’s eye bank collected 24 corneas and the Armed Forces Medical College’s eye bank collected 69. The eye bank at Aundh Civil hospital was launched in December 2009, said Ashok Mahadik.
The over–a–100 club
Between April 2009 and March 2010 H V Desai Hospital’s eye bank collected (396) corneas, Venu Madhav eye bank of the Deenanath Mangeshkar hospital gathered 210, Jankalyan eye bank had 198, International eye bank of Ruby Hall Clinic collected 240 and the National Institute of Ophthalmology gathered 100 corneas.