“I wasn’t fit for anything but begging. I always wanted to contribute to society in some way, but had no way to do it. However, after filling the eye donation form, I feel I have finally accomplished something worthwhile,” said 60-year-old Sudhir Shinde (name changed on request), who has been residing in the city beggars’ home for the past three weeks. After viewing an inspiring 20-minute video clip telling the story of a visually impaired girl who had her sight restored, over 75 vagrants residing in the institution expressed willingness to donate their eyes. The district social welfare department, in its first ever such initiative, conducted an eye donation camp at the beggars’ home to spread awareness among neglected sections of society.
However, officials were astounded to see 75 of the residents coming forward without need for much cajoling. “We did not expect such an overwhelming response. It is so tough to convince educated people to donate eyes. However, so many from the neglected sections of society, most of them illiterate, immediately agreed to donate their eyes,” said district social welfare officer Sanjay Kadam. He added that the beggars were very inquisitive and wanted to know whether they could donate their eyes even with conditions like glaucoma and cataract.
52-year old Ajit Gaikwad (not his actual name) who came to the beggars’ home from Shirdi said, “The message behind the video clip made me restless and then I thought that I am not of much use, but at least my eyes would be useful to some one after my death.”
The institution has 123 members residing, including both men and women. “We did not force the beggars; rather they came to us and said that they want to donate their eyes. We are now completing the formalities,” said Sanjay Dudhalkar, the rector of the home.
Speaking to MiD DAY
Dr Sameer Darat, cornea surgery specialist at Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital, said, “There has been a
significant scarcity of eyes in the city for a while. The proportion of donations to the requirement is just 40 per cent. We requested the government department to create awareness, and they have done the right thing by tapping the neglected sections of society.”
Point of view
Who can donate eyes
>> Persons with diabetes, hypertension, asthma, and those without communicable diseases can also donate eyes.
>> People who use spectacles, suffer from short-sightedness, long sightedness or astigmatism or even those operated for cataract can donate, as these conditions do not affect the cornea.
Who can’t donate eyes
>> Persons who were infected with or died from AIDS, Hepatitis B or C, rabies, septicaemia, acute leukaemia, tetanus, cholera, meningitis or encephalitis cannot donate eyes.
>> Eyes donated to the eye banks that are not medically suitable for transplant may be used for medical research.