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To increase cornea donation, police officers may be empowered to allow enucleation

Accident cases in which the victim has passed away, their corneas if donated on time may help a blind person to see. However, the corneas need to be harvested within six hours of the person’s death. Keeping that in mind, in case of medico-legal cases, police officers on duty may be empowered to allow enucleation of corneas from accident victims within four to six hours. Even before other legal processes are completed.

“In medico-legal cases, including road traffic accident deaths, the local police officer (station officer) on duty be empowered to grant instant permission and ensure cornea retrieval within four to six hours of death if the next of kin is willing to donate the eyes of the deceased, subject to the provision of Section 6 of Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Rules, 2014,” read the circular by CK Mishra, secretary, department of health and family welfare.

Centre’s department of health and family welfare has given these instructions under the National Programme for Control of Blindness (NPCB) to promote cornea collection. Goa’s health secretary and has been asked to implement them.

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“Finally, we have got what we had been lobbying for. This means that the cornea harvesting need not wait till other procedures like autopsy in medico-legal cases are completed, by which time, the window period for cornea retrieval is usually over,” said Vijay Priolkar, chairperson of the Rotary Eye Bank of Goa, which is jointly managed by the Rotary Club of Panaji Eye Bank Trust and the department of ophthalmology of Goa Medical College and Hospital (GMC) in a ToI report.

The eye bank in Goa over its seven years of existence has had only 40 corneas being donated to it. Procedures involved the medico-legal cases are cited as being the reason for less number of cornea donations to it.

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