Punarjot Eye Bank Society, a non-governmental organization in Ludhiana has been working towards generating awareness on eye donation in Punjab.
The enterprise has been providing free corneal transplants to patients coming in from all over the country.
Dr Ramesh Kumar, Medical Director of Punarjot Eye Bank Society, and his team of started the awareness campaign from the grass-roots level by setting up an eye bank in Mansuran, a small village in Punjab.
Initially, it was an uphill task for his team in the rural area, as the concept of eye donation was new to the village. But by staging street plays and by conducting discussions in rural areas, Dr. Ramesh garnered support for his movement.
Till date, the rural centre has received over 120 corneas in donation and the team has organized over 150 eye operation camps in the area.
The society's eye donation campaign has been well received by people in Punjab. People from all over the country are coming in for free corneal transplant surgery here, for which they will have to shell out a lot otherwise.
"In Jharkhand, we do not have any eye donations, neither we come to know about them. We have to go to nearby cities like Patna and Lucknow to get operated but there, the cost of eye an operation is very high, around 1.5 lakh rupees, which we poor cannot afford. Then we came to know about this society in Ludhiana. I got my nephew here for his operation. He is fine now and recovering well. I think people should come forward and donate eyes for needy people like us," said Mohammad Imtiaz, an attendant with a patient.
Meanwhile, Punarjot Eye Bank Society has undertaken the task of public education about eye donation and eye banking, eye tissue harvesting, tissue evaluation, preservation and distribution.
"When we started out in 1992, we used to have just one or two eye donations in a year. In 1996, we were a part of an international conference on eye banking in Europe after which our organization got popular and we started receiving 30-40 eye donations yearly. Our mission got the boost in 2003, and till now we have collected about 2,700 eye Cornea in our Bank. Last year we received 783 eye donations," said Dr Kumar.
In India, the requirement of corneal surgeries per annum is about 20,000 and the NGO has been successful in meeting some of this requirement.
An estimated 75 percent of India's 12 million blind people suffer from avoidable blindness because of the country's limited eye care infrastructure that has only one eye surgeon per 100,000 people.