New ray of light in Kashmir: eye transplant to begin soon

New ray of light in Kashmir: eye transplant to begin soon
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Dr Bashir’s Eye Care Centre in Karan Nagar, Srinagar, will get the first licence in J&K for cornea transplant; Dr Shroff’s Charity Eye Hospital in Delhi will donate eyes
By Riyaz Bhat  
Srinagar: Kashmir will soon have its first eye-transplant facility at Dr Bashir’s Eye Care and Research Centre in Karan Nagar, Srinagar, which will become the first hospital in Jammu and Kashmir to get a licence for cornea transplant under the Human Organs Transplantation Act (HOTA) 1994.
“Day before yesterday we got a confirmation from Director Health that we will be registered soon. We have also received green signal from Delhi-based hospital Dr Shroff’s Charity Eye Hospital which is registered under HOTA, and they have agreed to donate us corneas,” said Dr Yasfir Bashir, chief ophthalmologist at Dr Bashir’s Eye Care and Research Centre, on Friday.
Director Health Salim-Ur-Rehman confirmed the news. He said, “Dr Bashir’s Eye Care and Research Centre is the leading ophthalmology clinic in Srinagar and I feel happy, as I am much satisfied with this institution and its outstanding state-of-art technology. I’ll try to get them registered as soon as possible.”
An eye-transplant centre in Srinagar will come as a boon for the hundreds of young men and women, boys and girls, who were blinded or suffered damage to their eyes in the government repression of the popular uprising that followed the killing of Burhan Wani. The blinding of youth by pellet ammunition has been the most heart-wrenching story in the recent civil rebellion, with victims as young as 10-year-olds and the 14-year-old Insha catching the world’s attention and sympathy. Many of these victims have had no option but to suffer blindness because of lack of eye-transplant facility in the state. Not many could afford to go outside the state to have a corneal transplant, a minor surgical procedure in these times of advanced surgery and a popular one, with many people donating their eyes for the benefit of the blind.
For the past two years, doctors at SMHS hospital in Srinagar were demanding from the government a license for transplantation of human organs, especially the transplantation of cornea, which could have provided new eyes to the hundreds of pellet-blinded victims in recent months, but the licence has not yet been given.
While talking to Kashmir Reader, Director Health Salim-U-Rehman said, “I have only been in charge for the past four months. The Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) and the Government Medical College (GMC) Srinagar are independent bodies and do not come under director health.”
The head of department ophthalmology at SMHS hospital, Dr Tariq Qureshi, told Reader, “For the past one-and-a-half years we have requested director health to provide us a licence to start transplanting organs under the Human Organ Transplantation Act, but till date we have not received any order or licence. As of now, the government hospitals cannot operate an eye bank because the government won’t give them a licence.”
Doctors at Dr Bashir’s Eye Care and Research Centre said that the central government’s list of states where hospitals or clinics can get registration under the Human Organ Transplantation Act does not include Jammu and Kashmir. “In the policy and the list notified by the central government, the name of the state of Jammu and Kashmir is not mentioned,” said Dr Yasfir Bashir.
Dr Bashir said that the reason why Jammu and Kashmir is missing from the list is the shortage of organ donors and the lack of an eye bank.
Dr Tariq Qureshi of SMHS hospital said that in the past, Muftis (chief clerics) of Kashmir did not approve of transplantation of organs. Officials of SMHS contacted Saudi Arabia’s Mufti for more information on this.
“We sent an email to the Saudi Arabia Mufti and we received a positive response. He replied that ‘To save a precious life or to bring vision back to someone, there is nothing wrong in transplantation of cornea,’” Dr Qureshi said.
He said that doctors also sought help from religious scholars in Kashmir.
“We first contacted the Mufti of a reputed seminary here to get approval for transplantation of cornea, but he refused to give the approval, saying that we must not go against the design of nature. But many Islamic scholars in Kashmir believe that some of the human organs can be used to save another person’s life.”
While speaking to Kashmir Reader, Islamic scholar Mufti Rashid Ahmad said it was not permissible to donate organs after death, but a person can donate organs in his or her lifetime on the condition that it will not affect the donor’s health.

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