You don’t have to fill any form to pledge your eyes. Just an SMS will do. You also become a sight ambassador in the process,” says S Jayaraman, founder-trustee of Nayana Jyothi Trust, Bengaluru.
“Whenever we speak of eye donation, people agree to pledge their eyes but immediately ask for the pledge form. The concept is so much ingrained in people’s minds and hospitals too claim to have collected many such pledges.” Instead, all that people need to do is send an SMS — EYE<space>Name<space>Location — to 9902080011. The names and location will be stored in the Trust’s database.
As sight ambassadors, donors can inspire others to pledge their eyes and when someone they know dies, these ambassadors can counsel the immediate kin of the deceased, and with their consent, call the closest eye bank and complete the process without hassles.
The closest eye banks in a particular area can also be known by typing EYEBANK<space>Pincode. These eye banks will simultaneously receive alerts of a possible eye harvest and the nearest eye bank can reach the site without much waste of time. “Ideally, the golden hour is 4–6 hours after death. The entire process of alerting the eye bank is completed through a mobile phone and without any hassle of looking for the pledge form that the deceased might have signed, or searching for the eye bank.”
He narrates how students of a school in Doddabellapur near Bengaluru are actively promoting eye donation. “The moment they come to know of any death in their locality, they inform their teachers, who then come over and counsel the bereaved family. If the family is willing to donate the eyes of their dead relative, they immediately alert the eye banks.”
More recently, Jayaraman has also got the consent of the Karnataka and Tamil Nadu governments to use the 108 helpline. In the event of a death, relatives can call 108 if they wish to donate the eyes of the deceased. The call will be diverted to the nearest eye bank, following which, a medical team will go over to harvest the eyes.
Eye donation – facts
Jayaraman highlights some alarming statistics — while 15 lakh Indians suffer from corneal blindness, only 15,000 usable eyes are collected out of the 75 lakh deaths and about 150 lakh eyes are cremated or buried.
The entire procedure takes just about half an hour and leaves no visible signs on the body. After making the call, the eyes of the deceased should be closed and covered with moist cotton, the overhead fan switched off and the head of the deceased raised by about six inches to lessen incidence of bleeding during the removal of eyes.