Al-Shifa says corneal donations can transform thousands of lives

Al-Shifa says corneal donations can transform thousands of lives

RAWALPINDI, MAR 18 (DNA) — Maj. Gen (Ret) Rehmat Khan, the president of Al-Shifa Trust, on Monday, said that corneal contributions had the potential to give a fresh lease on life to thousands of people as nine thousand people were on the trust’s waiting list for corneal transplants. He noted that the trust receives 800 corneal donations annually and has increased its capacity accordingly.

However, the majority on the waiting list have to wait for years to get their vision restored and become useful citizens. According to Maj. Gen (Retd) Rehmat Khan, there is a significant disparity between supply and demand of cornea in Pakistan and throughout the world, with corneal blindness accounting for up to 15% of all cases of blindness.

He urged the masses to donate corneas, pointing out that in the previous thirty years, only two people had donated corneas, and people were reluctant to do so for various reasons. He informed the media representatives that Americans provide corneal donations for Pakistani patients because residents are reluctant to volunteer for this charitable endeavour.

According to him, in August 2018, the first-ever eye bank was formed at the trust’s Rawalpindi premises with the assistance of the American organisation Eversight. There, individuals can submit their wills to donate corneas. He continued by saying that because corneal donations in the country are so few, 53% of eye patients lack access to donated corneas; as a result, corneas must be imported from the USA and Sri Lanka.

A cornea is one of the simplest tissues to transplant because the donor and recipient do not need to match. He said it is a bloodless tissue that absorbs oxygen straight from the atmosphere. He went on to say that corneas from the elderly can be removed and transplanted into the eyes of much younger people.

According to Maj. Gen. (Ret) Rehmat Khan, the Al-Shifa Trust has begun corneal transplants at its Sukkar hospital in addition to its Rawalpindi facility. In Sukkar Hospital, 50 corneal transplants have been completed successfully to date at no cost.

Eighty percent of all surgeries performed at the Al-Shifa eye hospitals in Rawalpindi, Sukkar, Kohat, Muzaffarabad, and Chakwal are free of charge. So far, the trust has performed over one million different eye surgeries. — DNA