Tej Kohli Foundation's Corneal Transplant Mission In India Crosses Milestone Of 100 Beneficiaries
Sonny Abraham of Netindian in a candid chat with Rajiv Pradhan, the foundation head in India.
What causes corneal blindness and how serious is the corneal blindness situation in India?
Corneal blindness occurs when the cornea gets damaged either due to an injury or a disease. India has the largest number of blind in the world, of which 4.6 million are corneal blind, of whom 60 percent are children below the age of 12. Up to 66 per cent of these cases are preventable or curable. Today, 3 million people can recover their vision through corneal transplantation. Unfortunately, the actual number of transplants carried out in the country fall way short of the numbers required to address this problem, mainly due to a lack of awareness.
Tej Kohli Foundation will, among other things, try to raise awareness about the issues involved, popularise the donation of eyes and facilitate corneal transplantation.
When did you initiate this programme and what is your involvement in tackling this issue?
The first corneal transplant was performed on June 21, 2010 on 47 year old Kamruddin of Rajasthan. I head the foundation in India and we cover the expenses of corneal transplants performed in the national capital region of India.
Who are the doctors helping you in this cause?
Niramaya, a trust, headed by Dr. Hitendra Ahooja, has been playing a central role in helping us eradicate corneal blindness in this region. The trust has a team of highly qualified doctors who are committed to giving their best services. Niramaya has equally contributed in helping us combat the corneal blindness.
What is the typical cost of a corneal transplant? Can you please explain the process that entails a transplant?
It may range anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000 depending on which part of the world you are in.
An eye bank collects the cornea within 6-8 hours of the donor's death and the transplants must be complete within 72 hours of donation. One donation gives vision to two blind people. The average surgery is two hours and the recovery may last as long as three months to a year. Donated corneas are given to the patients who are in a waiting list, formed in accordance with guidelines. Graft rejection may happen at any moment after the transplant is done, however the incidence is very low.
This Foundation has reached the 100 beneficiaries milestone, what are your plans going forward?
Upon achievement of the 100th corneal transplant milestone, the foundation has now decided to cover the cost of ALL corneal surgeries in this region. My objective will be fully met if I can assist Mr. Tej Kohli in his efforts of making a significant contribution in bringing vision to the millions of corneal blind people in India. Organizing events at various levels to create awareness as well as providing continued financial support is on our agenda.
Eye donation and vision restoration through corneal transplant is a winning combination of benevolence and the wonders of modern medical science. We request everyone to pledge their eyes and also help us spread the word by becoming our sight ambassadors.
Tej Kohli Foundation
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