Pleasant surprise for family after harvest of corneas

It was her mother who taught her to identify the colour ‘ kanakambaram.' On Wednesday, it was once again, thanks to her mother, that Suseela Gurumurthy could identify the colour in a relative's sari after nearly 20 years of blindness.

It was quite by coincidence that this turn of events happened. When Lakshmi Koteeswaran, 84, breathed her last on Saturday, her corneas were removed and sent to the eye bank as per her wishes. The Rotary Rajan Eye Bank at Rajan Eye Care Hospital harvested the corneas and looked at its recipient registry. It turned out that the first patient on the list was unavailable for the surgery; the second person on the list, was Suseela, 62, the donor's daughter.

“We were pleasantly shocked when the call came from the eye bank asking our eldest sister Suseela to come for transplant, all the more so, when we realised that it was our mother's eye that she would be getting,” said K. Rajah, who is in the advertising business. “We were touched at the coincidence; my mother's strongest wish was that her daughter must be able to see again.”

Suseela lost vision in her right eye completely because of an infection. Over the years, diabetic retinopathy robbed her of vision in the other eye too. She registered three years ago for a corneal transplant and had received calls twice before when corneas became available. “Perhaps, she was destined to see through her mother's eye,” Mr. Rajah said.

On Wednesday morning, when Sujatha Mohan, director, Rajan Eye Bank, who performed the surgery, removed her bandage, Suseela opened her eyes to recognise, with great joy, the kanakambaram colour sari her sister was wearing.

Mohan Rajan, chairman, Rajan Eye Care Hospital, says there was one more coincidence to the whole incident — it took place on International Women's Day. He adds that the family had been truly altruistic in donating their mother's corneas. “Though they had a member in the family who required a corneal transplant, they made no such request.”

Ms. Koteeswaran's other cornea went to a farmer from Vandavasi, who is also reportedly able to see again.