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Tiruchi GH doctors perform corneal transplants

Doctors at the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Government Hospital in the city have successfully performed corneal transplants on two patients.

This is the first time that corneal transplant surgeries have been performed at the hospital, which is attached to the K. A. P. Viswanatham Government Medical College. Both the surgeries were performed under the Chief Minister’s Comprehensive Health Insurance Scheme.

The patients were identified by the District Blindness Control Society and registered with it for undergoing the transplants. Sixty-year-old Najimunisa, who resides near the Nathervalli Dargah, was suffering from corneal blindness due to bullous keratopathy for the past eight years. As per the advice of the society, she had registered her name with the eye bank functioning under the control of the District Blindness Control Society at the hospital.

The other patient, Palaniyandi (70) of Mekkudi in the outskirts of the city, was suffering from blindness in left eye due to corneal degeneration for the past 10 years. He was examined by the District Blindness Control Society and had also registered with the Eye Bank to undergo corneal transplant.

The procedure, penetrating keratoplasty, was performed by a team of corneal surgeons of the hospital led by Parthiban Purushothaman, Head, Department of Ophthalmology. U. Vijayashanmugam, M.Niraimozhi, Vijaya Bharathi and Helen Rositta were the other surgeons who were part of the team.

“Both these patients have undergone corneal transplant surgery which will provide vision in one eye, making their lives better,” Dr. Parthiban said. The surgery normally costs about ₹40,000 if done in private institutions, he added.

The Eye Bank is the first government one in Tiruchi district and offers hope for poor patients suffering from corneal blindness and waiting for a long period for treatment. Before the Eye Bank was opened, the patients were referred to other centres for undergoing the surgery and this entailed a long waiting time.

According to Dr. Parthiban about 26 more patients are in the recipients’ register of the Eye Bank. As the bank gets donations of corneas, they would undergo the surgeries. “Now that we have started performing transplant surgeries at our hospital, more people and voluntary organisations should encourage people to donate eyes to the bank,” Dr. Parthiban said. The eyes of any dead person, even if he or she has been suffering from diseases such as blood pressure, diabetes and asthma, can be donated. The corneas have to be harvested within six hours of death of a person and transplanted within 24 hours, he added.

For more information on eye donations, people can dial toll-free number 18004251465 or the contact the District Blindness Control Society by dialling 0431-2770040.

There were about 18.7 million people suffering from blindness in India and 1% of them suffered from corneal blindness, which can be treated through corneal transplant surgery, the hospital authorities said.

Collector K. Rajamani, who interacted with patients who had undergone the surgery, commended the doctors and staff for their dedicated service in extending health care to the needy.


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