Eye or Cornea Donation
The clear, transparent layer of tissue in front of the black portion of the eye is called the cornea and it helps in focussing by converging light rays to enter the eye and fall on the retina. Any damage or loss of transparency will directly result in blindness.
Corneal blindness can be treated by corneal transplantation and the vision can be restored. Corneal transplantation is a surgical procedure through which the opaque cornea of the damaged eye is replaced with the transparent cornea from a deceased donor.
Need for Eye or Cornea Donation:
It is estimated that there are 15 million people in India and about 6.8 million of these patients suffer from corneal blindness and it is expected that the corneal blindness numbers are expected to reach 10.6 million by 2020. To meet the current demand, there is a need to perform 150,000 corneal transplants every day.
Eye or Cornea Donation Process:
Pledging of eyes by the prospective donor or consent of the family members after death of their loved one knowing the wishes of the family member triggers the eye donation process.
Call the nearest eye bank or call national organ donation toll free number 1800 103 7100 and follow the instructions given by the tele-counsellor or eye bank personnel to keep the corneas in a good condition till the retrieval team arrives. Provide correct address and landmarks to ensure that the eye bank team reaches on time.
It will take 20-30 minutes approximately to harvest the corneas and they are stored in preservative media and are transported to the eye bank. At the eye bank, the corneas are tested, evaluated and distributed to the needy as per guidelines of Eye Bank Association of India.
Most important action that one should do is to tell your family members about your wish to donate organs and tissues. Keep the donor card with you at all times so that it will serve as an indication to your family members or hospitals of your wish to be an eye donor.
The relatives of the donor have the authority and moral responsibility to donate the eyes of their loved one, especially if the donor expressed his desire during his/her lifetime by taking a donor card. This donor card will help in remembering the donor’s wish and will make it easy for the counsellors in getting the consent for eye donation from the family.
Getting Ready for Eye Donation:
- 1. Confirmation of death by a physician and get a valid death certificate if possible.
- 2. Contact the eye bank or organ donation toll free helpline 1800 103 7100 as soon as possible. The retrieval process has to be complete within 6 hours of time of death.
- 3. Close the eyelids and cover them with moist cotton or clean cloth to keep it moist till the eye bank team arrives.
- 4. Switch off the fan and switch on the air conditioner if available.
- 5. Raise the donor’s head by 6 inches by placing two pillows under it.
- 6. Make sure that the family members of the deceased donor authorised to give consent are available when the team arrives. Consent by the family members is compulsory for eye donation.