An expert stated on Wednesday that COVID has severely impacted eye donations and transplants. However, with the decrease of COVID cases across the nation, the situation has begun to improve.
Dr JS Titiyal, Chief of RP Centre, AIIMS, Delhi said, “COVID really killed the eye donation movement in the country during the first wave of COVID. If COVID wave was going up, the collection or donation of eyes was going down.”
Dr Titiyal said that he had hoped to touch 3,000 transplantations per year, however, due to COVID, the target will take another nearly three years to achieve.
“I was hoping that we might touch 3,000 transplantation in a year, which was my goal at that time. But there was a sudden COVID arrival and now last year we could hardly do around 580 cases, which is 1/3rd of what we were doing earlier and there has been a three-fold increase in the number of cases which are being registered for transplantation, That means they are waiting for their turn for surgery,” he said.
However, the doctor stated that the donation has shown some uptick with the decline in the number of COVID cases.
“Now, fortunately, COVID is almost plateauing, similarly eye donation and collection is increasing day by day, which is a good sign for the entire country. I hope that this will be maintained so that we can effectively increase our donation, collection and transplantation also,” he said.
In the year 2018-2019, 2,500 tissues and more than 1,700 eye surgeries were conducted. AIIMS has the capacity to conduct 5000-6000 per year.
“If I see on national eye bank data before COVID in 2019. We had the maximum number of transplantation and collection at that time,” Dr Titiyal said.
“So, it is a real challenge for a subsequent time to come. For us. Unfortunately, we get patients from across the country because of the faith they have in AIIMS treatment. But the collection is not increasing,” he added.
AIIMS campaign for eye donation
AIIMS will be running various awareness campaigns for eye donations that include “Run for Eye Donation” which will be joined by the faculty, residents, students and staff of AIIMS on September 8.