Eye hospital gives new lives to 12 patients within 24 hours

An expert team at the Guru Nanak Eye Centre at Delhi does corneal transplantation

Doctors at Delhi's Guru Nanak Eye Centre (GNEC) recently conducted 12 corneal transplants within 24 hours.
The cornea is the transparent tissue that covers the eye.
It allows light to enter and performs two-thirds of the focusing tasks. For people suffering from vision loss due to irreparable damage to the tissue, a transplant is the only option.
Dr Ritu Arora, medical director of GNEC said that a corneal transplant involves replacing a diseased or scarred cornea with a donor graft.
It gave gifts of eyesight to 12 people who were suffering from corneal blindness.
The doctors there said that most of them were from poor or lower middle-class families that had been waiting for cornea donation for nearly six months.
"We have counsellors posted at both the hospital and in the mortuary of Lok Nayak Hospital. They try to convince families of the deceased to donate organs, including the corneas, so the life and sight of the needy patients can be saved. With their help, we were able to get 15 corneas between Saturday and Wednesday. Of them, 12 were used to conduct cornea transplant," she Dr Arora.
The director of the health institute said all prospective recipients were not admitted to the hospital.
Before this, GNEC doctors said, the hospital had conducted nine cornea transplants in 24 hours in 2011. Other leading eye hospitals like AIIMS Delhi have also carried out multiple corneal transplants in a day, they added.
"We have a list of prospective recipients. Once the cornea donations were confirmed, we called 20 people from the list for a transplant and of them, 12 people who cleared the screening test to rule out any infection, for example, Covid-19, underwent the surgery on Thursday," she explained.
The Guru Nanak Eye Centre at Delhi
Image: The Guru Nanak Eye Centre at Delhi
A team of doctors including two consultants and four senior resident doctors carried out 12 surgeries in a single day.
Before this, GNEC doctors said, the hospital had conducted nine cornea transplants in 24 hours in 2011. Other leading eye hospitals like AIIMS Delhi have also carried out multiple corneal transplants in a day, they added.
It was said that last year due to the Covid pandemic, the number of corneal transplants reduced.
According to Eye Bank Association of India (EBAI), between April 2019 and March 2020, that is, the year before the pandemic hit the country, India conducted 27,075 corneal transplants. Post-pandemic, between April 2020 and March 2021, this number reduced to 12,998 approximately, a drop of nearly 52%.
Dr Namrata Sharma, honorary general secretary of EBAI, who is also a professor of ophthalmology at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), said one of the main reasons for the sharp drop in corneal transplants, also referred to as eye transplant, was the lack of cornea or eye donation.
Retrieval of corneal tissue was suspended temporarily when the Covid outbreak started in March-end. Corneal transplants were also put on hold, she said.
More than 11 lakh people in India suffer from blindness due to impairment of the cornea. To remedy this, cornea donated by a deceased person is used to replace the impaired cornea in the patient.
"We are very thankful to the family of the donors who consented for cornea donation at such a difficult time," GNEC director Dr Arora said while appealing to others to also come forward to make the donation in the eventuality of the death of a loved one to give the gift of sight to needy people.



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