Millennium Post

AIIMS nurses to be trained as counsellors to help persuade kin of patients to donate eyes

With the objective of increasing its eye bank collection and thereby reducing the waiting period for thousands of patients who come to the centre in need of corneal transplants, the National Eye Bank (NEB) at Rajendra Prasad (RP) Centre in All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) will now be training its staff nurses as well as technicians to be counsellors.

The main role of these counsellors, who are also a major source of contact between the patients and their relatives, will be there to encourage the kin of the patients to donate the eyes of the patient after they pass away.

Organ Retrieval Banking Organisation (ORBO) will be in-charge of training the staff members as counsellors.

Speaking about the challenges of collecting eye tissues of a deceased patient, Dr Jeewan S Titiyal chairman NEB said: “Unlike other organs, eyes can only be donated after the patient dies. In most of the cases, even if the patient is willing after the death their relatives find it uncomfortable for the patient’s eyes to be donated.”

In 2015 the NEB achieved the last record of donor cornea collection at 1,459. The number is still very short considering that there are 5,000 deaths a year at AIIMS. 

The RP centre that has the capacity to do about 2,000 eye transplantations in a  year. It does about 1,000-1,500 surgeries each year. There are 500 patients who are in waiting and the general waiting period for corneal transplantation can extend up to a year-and-a-half to two years.

In order to boost the cornea retrieval programme, NEB has also tied up with major hospitals in Delhi. Even after the cornea is received, the challenge of it not being utilised fully remains. 

Most of the times less than 50 per cent of the eye tissue are damaged. In cases of septicemia, cancer, patients on ventilation for more than three days and longer time in a mortuary for more than 15 hours adversely affects the tissue of the eye thereby reducing its utility. 

In spite of major differences , the NEB, RP centre AIIMS is celebrating its 50 years and trying to remove the difficulties and promoting awareness for eye donations. Recently, an online death notification system has been initiated at AIIMS which will lead to an easy approach of the counsellor to the donor families.
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