World Eye Donation Day
Twenty one years – a memoir
by Dr. Pronoti Sinha
Secretary, Bihar Eye Bank Trust
New Eyes for the Blind! This dream inspired the creation of Bihar Eye Bank Trust which aimed to set up a centre for keratoplasty or eye transplant.
Babulal Marandi giving dark glasses after transplant
In 2021, Jharkhand Eye Bank, Hospital and Research Centre is completing 21 years of its existence. Maybe it’s a good idea to look back at the beginnings to see how far we have come. Bihar Eye Bank Trust was formed in 1974 by an officer who wanted eye transplants to restore sight to the blind. The hospital took a long time to come up.
Dr. Dinesh Sarangi and cornea recipient
On 15 August 2000 Bihar Eye Bank and Hospital was inaugurated by the then Governor of Bihar Sri V. C. Pandey who was also the ex-officio President of the Trust. With the birth of Jharkhand, the Governor of Jharkhand, Sri Prabhat Kumar, became the ex-officio President and the hospital became Jharkhand Eye Bank, Hospital and Research Centre.
Advocate General pledging his eyes
At the outset, the hospital presented a challenge. In a dilapidated three storey building, only the ground floor had been given a quick whitewash. There was not a single instrument in the hospital and no staff except a caretaker. Some well known doctors volunteered to come for one hour only. They had to bring their own instruments and even assistants. Because the fee was only Rs. 10.00 a few patients drifted in, but very few. This was the year 2000.
Governor Prabhat Kumar pledging his eyes
2001 was lucky. The new Governor of Jharkhand and President of the Trust, Sri Prabhat Kumar, visited the hospital and pledged his eyes. The first eye donation was also received from an influential family and successful transplants were done. The hospital started holding free cataract operation camps in collaboration with the District Blindness Control Society and earned a reputation for good care which still holds.
Eye donation camp
At the end of 2002, King’s School, Ely sent a large donation because the children wanted to support “new eyes for the blind”. This enabled the hospital to employ a well known corneal surgeon and equip the hospital. While attending to treatment of eye problems, the effort to increase awareness and eye donation in Jharkhand has continued. Bihar Eye Bank Trust is an institutional member of the Eye Bank Association of India. Staff have been sent to Aravind Eye Hospital, Madurai for training as Eye Donation Counselor and Eye Technician who can enucleate eyes. Eye Donation awareness camps are held especially during Eye Donation Fortnight every year apart from talks to various organizations.
Essay competition eye donation fortnight ’09
Unfortunately, eye donation is not common in Jharkhand. Initially a register of patients needing transplant was maintained but the wait for available corneas was indefinite. From 2013 Bihar Eye Bank Trust arranged to get eyes from other eye banks and many patients who could not afford to go to distant hospitals have got eye transplants in this hospital. Sri Parimal Nathwani M. P. gave a big grant to equip the eye bank laboratory.
Eye donation talk to nursing students
Despite the lockdown, it is a matter of pride that two transplants could be arranged one on 2 March 2020 and another on 18 December 2020. Though the pandemic has caused eye collection and eye transplant to be impeded, efforts continue to educate the public and the hope persists that one day the minds of people will change and eye donation will become a tradition so that the blind will no longer have to live in darkness.