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KTH’s eye bank lacks facilities

Updated April 14, 2019

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Doctors say Rs10m funds can ensure treatment of four patients with a single cornea. — Reuters/File
Doctors say Rs10m funds can ensure treatment of four patients with a single cornea. — Reuters/File

PESHAWAR: The eye bank inaugurated at the public sector Khyber Teaching Hospital in the provincial capital five months ago has failed to cater to the patients needing cornea due to a lack of facilities.

The doctors told Dawn that currently, a cornea was implanted in one patient’s eye due to storage issue at the eye bank.

They, however, said if the facilities, which required Rs10 million funds, were there, the doctors could use a single cornea to treat four patients.

Doctors say Rs10m funds can ensure treatment of four patients with a single cornea

Before the opening of the KHT’s eye bank Dec 5 last year, the Murad Eye Bank at the Hayatabad Medical Complex, Peshawar, was the only such facility in the province.

The Murad Eye Bank set up in 2007 in the memory of Prof Murad Ali, one of the pioneers of ophthalmology in the province is successfully restoring the people’s eyesight by using the stored corneas coming in from abroad.

Ironically, the KTH’s eye bank has failed to perform to the desired level within five months of operation due to the non-existence of operating microscope, specular microscope and stem cell culture incubator, and audio-visual and recording system.

Prof Noorul Iman, dean of the Khyber Medical College and KTH, told Dawn that medical and hospital directors were responsible for the issue.

“We want to develop a specialty at the academic level before making it a centre of excellence for ophthalmology having linkages with national and international organisations,” he said.

The dean said the establishment of a full-fledged eye bank was necessary to ensure free treatment of more patients.

“We receive free corneas from the US-based Association of Physicians of Pakistani Descent of North America before the people selected by our doctors are implanted with them,” he said.

Prof Noorul Iman complained about lack of storage to perform the required procedures.

“If the eye bank is fully functional, one can use one cornea for the restoration of the vision of many people,” he said.

The KTH has restored eyesight of 180 people in the last 18 months due to the availability of modern facilities.

Focal person for the bank Assistant Professor Zaman Shah carries out the latest procedures, including deep anterior lamellar keratoplasty (DALK), pre-descemet’s deep anterior lamellar keratoplasty and descemet membrane endothelial keratoplasty (DMEK) in which the chances of graft rejection are minimal and cornea works for lifetime.

On April 3, Assistant Professor Shehzad Memon at the Sindh Institute of Visual and Ophthalmic Sciences Hyderabad expressed desire to learn the new surgical techniques from the KTH doctors.

He wrote a letter to the dean saying after watching procedures at the KTH on social media, he wanted permission to undergo a training.

The ophthalmologists told Dawn that the corneal transplants were frequently performed in developed countries, where people donated organs but Pakistan didn’t have such trend, and therefore, eyesight restoration was possible by the use of corneas received from abroad.

They said it was a developing specialty that guaranteed restoration of vision to those, who didn’t have vision due to trauma and pressure cooker explosion, which damaged cornea to end eyesight.

The ophthalmologists said such people were destined to stay sightless for life.

They said the KTH was one of the four hospitals approved by the Medical Transplant Regulatory Authority for corneal surgery in the province.

The ophthalmologists said the establishment of eye bank was required to restore vision of the people and impart the latest skills on corneal procedures to doctors whose results were highly satisfactory.

Published in Dawn, April 14th, 2019