25 members of a family pledge their eyes together

While many of us enjoy the gift of sight, few have vision. Vinod Shete is one of the chosen few: this Bhiwandi resident chose to celebrate his birthday on Monday not by taking from others, but instead by giving a rare gift to a future beneficiary: his eyes.

United they stand: On Monday, 25 members spanning across three generations of the Shete family pledged to donate their eyes simultaneously — the youngest among them being Swaraj (2) and eldest Kantilal (75)

Not just that; Vinod, whose birthday coincides with World Eye Donation Day on June 10, also roped in 24 other members of his family, between ages two and 75, to pledge their eyes, along with him.

The good deed doesn’t end there. Ten more relatives are set to donate their eyes, and the family has set itself a target to rope in 50 more of their friends or acquaintances to joing thecause

The journey to this feat can be traced back to 2010, when Shete’s younger brother Laxman was lying on his deathbed. In course of his brother’s prolonged illness, Shete had made a shocking discovery about the dearth of donated human organs. His personal experiences made him aware of the sufferings of others, who lose their lives due to the scarcity of donated organs.

The eventual death of his beloved brother made Vinod recognise the need for organ donation. When he discussed the idea with his relatives, they decided to join in his endeavours. Vinod said, “I always wanted to do something for the society. Eye donation is the best way to help the needy even after your death. In addition to eye donation, I wish to donate my body to a medical college.” Vinod has convinced many other members of his family to donate their entire bodies.

Bharat, Vinod’s kin who works as a medical social worker with several hospitals in Thane and Mumbai, supported Shete and helped him convince other members of the family to enlist for the donation, and explained the formalities to them.

Said Bharat, “I know there is always a scarcity of eyes in our country. I want every citizen to come forward for eye donation, a practice that will make eyes easily available, like blood is in blood banks.”

At first, some members of the family were cagey about the idea of full body organ donation, as it went against their religious sentiments. After discussions and deliberations, the family unanimously decided to donate their eyes. Thinking of an appropriate day to execute their idea, they chose World Eye Donation Day.

On Monday, members across three generations of the family pledged their eyes simultaneously – the youngest among them being Swaraj (2) and eldest Kantilal (75). Kantilal Shete, Vinod’s uncle and the patriarch of the family, said, “I was very happy when Vinod approached me for this noble cause. I am really proud of my family.

” All the children in the family donated the eyes, one of whom is a special child. Pragati Shete, who recently wed into the family, said, “I was very excited about this unique idea of the entire family pledging to donate eyes. I hope my maternal family also follow us.”

Dr Kamal J Jain, chairman and founder, Giants Eye bank, Bhiwandi, said, “A majority of our donors belong to the Jain and Gujarati community but this Maharashtrian family has set a great example of humanity. More and more people should take inspiration from the Shete family and pledge to donate their eyes.”  

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