Due to the efforts of a philanthropic organisation 'Friends Helping Club (FHC) eye donation is getting popular among the families of Berhampur and it is also picking up in rural areas of Ganjam district.

Till now members of this organisation have motivated 154 eye donations. Due to efforts of members of this organisation two eye donations could take place in the city on June 22 and 23. It may be noted that apart from motivating others, all members of this organisation have pledged their own eyes as well as of their family members.

On June 22, corneas of 87-year-old Jammula Venkatramana of the city were collected by the department of ophthalmology of MKCG medical college and hospital. Motivated by his son Jammula Suresh, who happens to be the coordinator for eye donations campaign of the FHC, Mr. Venkatramana had pledged his eyes in 2003. On June 23, members of the FHC were able to motivate family members of Ch. Biswanath Patro (81) to donate his eyes after his death.

Cornea transplantation surgery facility was started in the MKCG medical college hospital's ophthalmology department in the year 2000. But the transplantation rate was initially low due to non-availability of donated corneas. Earlier, they used to get corneas from institutes in Hyderabad. But this practice has been stopped and now the eye bank of this ophthalmology department totally depends on locally donated corneas due to support of organisations like FHC. The FHC had also started motivating people for eye donation in 2000-01. Initially, eye donations in the city were in single figures every year. But it picked up with time due to relentless efforts of the FHC members. In 2011-12 they were able to motivate 21 eye donations and in the next year the number increased to 22. This year the FHC has motivated 18 eye donations.

According to Mr. Suresh, initially the trading community of the city had got motivated for eye donations. But in recent times eye donations have started to occur in families of other communities as well as from families from nearby rural areas. “Greatest thing is that eye donation is now being considered a pride by several families and there are families where more than one eye donation has occurred,” he said. According to FHC members stigma and mental blockades related to eye donation is also vanishing from the family members of prospective eye donors.

Yet, they feel there is still dearth of donated corneas for transplantation at MKCG medical college and hospital and several visually impaired persons are waiting for eye transplant.

The FHC has decided to motivate more families of the city for eye donation so that there will be no dearth of corneas for eye transplantation in Berhampur.