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Like father, like son: Puneeth Rajkumar donates eyes

What is the point of eyes burning with the pyre after death when it can help two people see, Dr Rajkumar had said
Last Updated 30 October 2021, 08:54 IST

Since 1994, Dr Rajkumar Eye Bank in Rajajinagar has collected 14,901 eyes. On Friday, sandalwood actor Puneeth Rajkumar became the third member of his family to donate his eyes after his father Dr Rajkumar and mother Parvathamma.

Founder and Chairman of Narayana Nethralaya (which owns Dr Rajkumar Eye Bank) Dr Bhujang Shetty got a call from Raghavendra Rajkumar, Dr Rajkumar's second son on Friday afternoon. The call brought back some rather painful memories as it was Dr Shetty who had retrieved the eyes of Dr Rajkumar in 2006 and of Parvathamma in 2017. Now it was the veteran actor's youngest son.

"I admire the composure of his family to have honoured their promise thrice till now to donate their family members' eyes. It is not easy to have called us for the third time straight. Even in 2017, it was Raghavendra who had called me. The retrieval was done by around 2.45 pm and by Saturday or Sunday, we will find two suitable patients for the transplant. He was young and had no eye problems or procedures in the past, so his corneas were perfectly healthy," Dr Bhujang Shetty told DH.

As per the Eye Bank Association of India's guidelines, adhering to the Covid protocols in place, the hospital also took nasopharyngeal swabs of the actor to rule out Covid before the impending corneal transplants that will be done over the weekend.

Eyes are supposed to be retrieved as soon as possible, preferably within six hours of death. His second visit to the family in less than five years made him recall Dr Rajkumar's pledge.

"What is the point of eyes burning with the pyre after death when it can help two people see. Not just me, my entire family including my children and their grandchildren will pledge their eyes," Dr Rajkumar had said.

"Back in the 90s, we would get eyes from Sri Lanka despite being such a populous country as there were not many donations. When we approached Dr Rajkumar to use his name for the eye bank, he readily accepted. Now with his son's donation, public awareness about eye donation will increase. Eye donations were massively hit during the pandemic," Dr Shetty said.

Narayana Nethralaya Vice Chairman Dr Rohit Shetty said, "Owing to his healthy lifestyle, Dr Rajkumar's corneas were of A-grade quality, so are his son's today. The corneas are currently in our Rajajinagar eye bank. Age and blood group are the main factors for compatibility. Someone young will receive the actor's eyes."

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(Published 30 October 2021, 08:54 IST)

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