“Death is no more than passing from one room into another.
But there’s a difference for me, you know.
Because in that other room, I shall be able to see”
- Helen Adams Keller -
World Famous Deaf-Blind Author, Political Activist and Lecturer
To pledge one’s eye is indeed a good deed and to motivate a few others to donate eyes is certainly a noble task. Most of us don’t know that India is the “Blind capital of the world”, with more than 15 million blind people of which, about 4.5 million corneal blind people are waiting for someone to donate eyes, and 60% of these are children. About 10,000 corneal grafting surgeries are performed every year in India, from the estimated 20,000 eyes collected per year from approximately 400 eye banks across the country.
Considering the fact that about 25,000 blind people are added to this list every year due to disease, injury, infection or malnutrition, the numbers do not even meet up to our annual requirement, leave alone the huge backlog. The supply is abysmally low compared to the demand. If the present trend continues, it is expected that the number of corneal blind individuals in India will increase from 8.4 million to 10.6 million by 2020.
Taking cognizance of the above startling facts and with a mission to spread the message of “Eye Donation Awareness” amongst the people, the Department of Ophthalmology, SRM Medical College Hospital & Research Centre has planned the observance of the “28th National Eye Donation Fortnight (August 25 to September 08, 2013)” at SRM Institute of Science and Technology (formerly known as SRM University), Kattankulathur; as mandated by the “National Programme for Control of Blindness (NPCB)”, Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Nirman Bhavan, Government of India, New Delhi, the “National Rural Health Mission (NRHM)” and the “Eye Bank Association of India (EBAI)”.
In this regard, a series of events have been planned at SRM Institute of Science and Technology (formerly known as SRM University), for the promotion of eye donation awareness amongst the general public, which have been conceptualized and organized by the vibrant and energetic “Organizing Secretary” - Dr.Syed Asghar Hussain, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Ophthalmology & steered by the “Organizing Chairman” - Prof.Dr.S.V.Swamy Raj - Head of the Department of Ophthalmology, both being faculty members of SRM Medical College Hospital & Research Centre, SRM Institute of Science and Technology (formerly known as SRM University), Kattankulathur.
SRM Eye Donation Awareness Motorcycle Rally 2013:
The events kick-started early morning at 07:30am on 31st August 2013, with the World’s First “Eye Donation Awareness Motorcycle Rally”, conducted SRM Institute of Science and Technology (formerly known as SRM University), in association with the “Coromandel Chapter” of “Harley Owners Group®, the official riding club of the world renowned and iconic American motorcycle brand “Harley-Davidson Motorcycles”.
The “Flag Off Ceremony” was done by Dr.James Pandian, Dean (Medical), Mr.Kannabiran, Inspector of Police, Prof. Dr.Swamy Raj - HOD, Ophthalmology (Organizing Chairman) & Dr.Syed Asghar Hussain - Assistant Professor, Dept. of Ophthalmology (Organizing Secretary).
The motorcycle rally proceeded from Vandalur to SRM Institute of Science and Technology (formerly known as SRM University) campus. Students turned out in large numbers to participate. The students distributed pamphlets among locals and commuters with motivating slogans like “Donate Eyes Gift Sight”, “I Donate, Do you ?”, “Spreading Light Enhancing Sight”, “Pledge your Eyes Gift your sight”, etc.
The rally was kick-started from Vandalur and proceeded to SRM Institute of Science and Technology (formerly known as SRM University), where they toured the entire campus, finally coming to halt near the Silver Jubilee Arch at the campus. This event is first of its kind in the whole of the world; wherein the "Harley Owners' Group" has participated; and SRM Institute of Science and Technology (formerly known as SRM University) is privileged to be the first to conduct such an event. The SRM Student Volunteers arranged and deputed by Ms.Anuradha Parakkat, Director - Corporate Affairs & Student Mentoring, did a well co-ordinated and commendable job in seamlessly managing the entire rally route inside SRM Institute of Science and Technology (formerly known as SRM University) campus, as well as at the finale.
During this event, the "Harley Owners' Group - Coromandel Chapter", was presented with a "CITATION" and all the individual riders were also given “Certificate of Appreciation”, for their exemplary service towards the social cause. A “Press Meet” was held both during the Flag Off Ceremony and at the end of the rally at SRM Hotel, with journalists from Sun T.V., Makkal T.V., Kalaignar T.V., Captain T.V., Vasanth T.V., Maalai Tamizhagam, and also our in-house SRM Staff Reporter.
The meeting was presided by Dr.James Pandian - Dean (Medical), Dr. Mushtaq Ahmed Khan - Medical Superintendent, Dr.Sunderajan - RMO, Prof. Dr. Swamy Raj - Head, Department of Ophthalmology (Organizing Chairman) & Dr.Syed Asghar Hussain - Asst. Professor (Organizing Secretary), were also present during the occasion. The members of "Harley Owners' Group - Coromandel Chapter", who participated in the rally, also came forward and pledged their eyes. Pamphlets, information leaflets and pledge forms were distributed to the people to promote eye donation. Dr.Rajesh Konda - M.S. Post Graduate Student, Dept. of Ophthalmology, had co-ordinated and assisted in all the arrangements of this event, apart from directing the SRM Student Volunteers in a exceptional manner. Dr.Gnaneswaran, Dr.Kamran, Dr.Syed, Dr.Vimala, Dr.Naveen, Dr.Kirtana & Dr.Manish, who had helped in the successful organization of this event.
The students of SRM Institute of Science and Technology (formerly known as SRM University) thus proved themselves to be ‘Vision Ambassadors’. Many students and staff members had gathered to pledge their eyes and the event was a great success!
CHENNAILIVE 104.8 FM - Live Interview About Eye Donation Awareness (August 31, 2013)
Later, during the day, the Organizing Secretary, Dr.Syed Asghar Hussain - Asst. Professor, SRM Medical College & Research Centre, was invited by “RJ Tausif” of Chennai Live 104.8 FM, between 02:00pm and 04:00pm, during his hugely popular show “Sports Café”, for a “Live Interview” about eye donation awareness. During the show, Dr.Syed Asghar Hussain commenced his discussion on world famous blind singers such as Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles, who rose to the pinnacle of success, overcoming their visual impairment.
He also spoke at length to the listeners, about the salient facts of curable corneal blindness in India; and the various eye donation awareness initiatives he has planned this year, on behalf of SRM Institute of Science and Technology (formerly known as SRM University). He also gave suggestions on how the general public can become “Advocates for Sight” by coming forward to pledge their eyes and arranging “Eye Donation Awareness Programmes” such as Flash Mobs, Human Chains, Human Rallies, etc.
The talk show was the first of its kind on “Eye Donation Awareness” on RJ Tausif’s “Sports Café”, which was a runaway success. SRM Institute of Science and Technology (formerly known as SRM University) is happy that Chennai Live 104.8 FM” has joined in its fight against Corneal Blindness.