India Interior

18 pairs of kind eyes and counting...

Usha Rai | Updated on March 10, 2018 Published on April 21, 2017

Boundless generosity The Ramnani family has donated eyes since 1987   -  NITIN RAI

This Indore family has created a record in eye donations

The Ramnani family of Indore has a record in eye donations. Over the last 30 years, 18 pairs were donated through the Lions Club of Neemuch, and two family members — Maina Ramnani in 2013 and Laxmandas in 2014 — have even donated their bodies.

The tradition was started by Dr Jairamdas Ramnani, who saw the large number of people in his village in need of corneas for restoring their vision and set an example by donating his eyes in May 1987. Other members of his family followed in his footsteps. The women were not to be left out — of the 18 donated pairs of eyes, eight belong to women. The youngest donor was Mahesh Ramnani, who was just 42 when he died in 2006.

The family’s unique contribution to society has been recognised by the Limca Book of Records 2017. In fact, the Ramnanis have been named People of the Year in the latest edition.

All the donations were through the Lions Club of Neemuch, which began collecting corneas for transplants in 1983 and has harvested 1,890 pairs till date. It has linked up with an eye hospital in Neemuch for the transplant surgery.

On call, 24x7

Vikas Ramnani and his uncle, who works closely with the Lions Club, said that a team of two doctors, a compounder and at least two club members are on alert 24x7 to respond to donor calls. They can reach most homes in Neemuch within half an hour. They sometimes travel up to 100 km to reach donors outside Neemuch. The harvested corneas are kept in the hospital’s eye bank.

The Ramnanis have inspired other families in Neemuch and Indore to donate eyes and other organs on death. “We no longer have to campaign for eye donations,” says Vikas. “A new social system has been set in place and when there is a death, a call is made to the Lions Club cell to collect the eyes. There is a regular stream of donors.”

In fact, families are so eager to donate that even when the doctor on call reports that the eyes are too damaged for use, families request them to be taken for research. The entire service is run on a voluntary basis.

The joy of receiving

Vikas and his family do not know the recipients of the eyes. Under the law, doctors cannot disclose the names. However, to build public confidence in eye donations, so far three mammoth meetings have been held, each attended by 200 recipients. This has further enthused the people to contribute to the eye donation movement.

Families of donors, invited to these meetings, also go home knowing the corneas are reaching the truly deserving. They hear the numerous wonderful stories of the newly sighted. It’s a great feeling, says Vikas!

The writer is a senior journalist based in Delhi

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Published on April 21, 2017
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