The unit was purchased with assistance from the funds of local MP and Union Minister Shashi Tharoor

The Regional Institute of Ophthalmology (RIO) in Thiruvananthapuram got a shot in the arm for its eye donation efforts on Friday with a mobile cornea retrieval unit being added to its facilities.

The mobile unit, purchased with assistance from the funds of local MP and Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development Shashi Tharoor, was flagged off from the RIO premises on Friday by Mr. Tharoor himself in the presence of K. Muraleedharan, MLA.

On the occasion, Mr. Tharoor, who said he had already pledged his organs for donation, stressed on the need to increase awareness on organ donation. He had been apprised of the RIO’s requirement for a mobile unit and since it was for such a humanitarian effort, there was no hesitation in sanctioning the funds, he added.

RIP Superintendent V. Sahasranamam told The Hindu that the RIO had witnessed a sudden surge in the number of eye donations this year, probably due to rising levels of awareness among the public.

While the average number of donations per year till 2011 was 50 to 60, this year, it had already touched 100, with the last three months in particular witnessing a surge.

The lack of a mobile unit had caused difficulties because on several occasions, there would be simultaneous calls. Now that the institute had a vehicle dedicated to cornea retrieval, the proceedings could be speeded up. The vehicle would also be used for eye donation related activities including camps and public awareness classes apart from ocular trauma (eye injury) services at the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College, Dr. Sahasranamam said.