Indian NGO urges Pope
Francis to pledge eyes
In Matters India, August 12, 2016
(Note: This note is for the benefit of those interested to know more about donating one’s eyes and body after death. “Gift of Life, Gift of Sight, SORT for Organ Transplant, Donating eyes and body” is a two part article, which can be read in website:
http://sites.google.com/site/jameskottoorspeaking/. SORT means Society for organ retrieval and transplant, www.sortcochin.org, Ph:9388632630. The undersigned wrote and published this series in Indian Currents, Delhi and other publications, when he donated his eyes and Body to the Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, Ernakulam on Aug.18/2009. Being a Voluntary organisation, there is no fee for registering at SORT. Once registered they give you a plastic card with all details to be carried along always. On death surviving relative has to call up SORT and a medical professional will come within six hours to take the necessary parts of the eye and make arrangements for the transport of the body to the hospital to which the departed person has donated his/her body.
The two part article clarifies a number of blind beliefs people have about the fate of the body on resurrection etc. Another researched article “Duty to Serve gives right to Die” in the same website answers other blind Scriptural Beliefs surrounding the fate of body after death. james kottoor, editor).
Bengaluru: An NGO started by a Catholic priest in India has urged Pope Francis to pledge to donate his eyes as an act of compassion in the Year of Mercy.
“One act of the Pope can inspire millions to follow suit,” says Claretian Father George Kannanthanam, founder director of Project Vision that made the appeal in a letter to the pontiff.
Many, the priest adds, “are not aware that eye donation is a very biblical, theologically correct and socially relevant program. This would result in a great movement for eye donation in the world.”
Father Kannanthanam handed over the letter on August 10 when he met Nuncio Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio at St John’s Medical College in Bengaluru, capital of Karnataka state.
Papal Nuncio received the proposal for creating a movement to generate enough of eyes for transplant in India. The Vatican ambassador noted that ‘giving sight is part of the objectives set out by Jesus in his mission statement.’ He also said that Pope Francis has been encouraging all Christians to donate organs and eyes.
Fr Kannanthanam explained to the nuncio scenario of blindness in India. According to him, India has one third of world’s blind population of 39 million people. Three million of them would regain their sight if people donated their eyes, he added.
The priest requested the nuncio to take the matter with various organs of the Church such as the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, Conference of Religious India and Catholic Health Association of India. “There is need to create a movement on eye donations,” he asserted.
The nuncio, who is being transferred to Poland, agreed to take up the matter with various Church agencies. According to him, the best ‘Vision Ambassadors’ are parish priest. “Some encouragement from them in the event of death would result in more families donating eyes of their bereaved members,” the prelate added.
Fr Kannanthanam says India would meet its cornea requirement if the Church in India could motivate 25 percent of its members to donate their eyes on their death.
“There is a shortage of 100,000 corneas in India. There are 200,000 Christians who die in India every year. Thus about 50,000 more persons encouraged to donate their eyes, would fill the gap between the demand and supply of corneas in the country. Thus the Church can solve the corneal blindness problem of the country,” the priest
The priest also wants Pope Francis to speak about eye donation in connection with the World Sight Day on October 13.
Father Kannanthanam launched Project Vision in 2013. Since then, more than 30,000 persons have pledged their eyes. Already eyes have been collected from about 30 persons that could restore the sight 60 persons.
Around 2,000 persons have joined the movement as Vision Ambassadors, who will do the coordination between the diseased family and eye bank in the event of death.
Project Vision has set a goal to make eye donation as a national movement involving all sections of the society. ‘Let Everyone See’ is the motto.
Fr. Kannanthanam has been involved with various social programs for the marginalized groups for more than 25 years. He founded the HOPE Society in 1988 to work among alcoholics and drug addicts. He lived with the leprosy affected persons at the Sumanahalli Centre in Bengaluru (then Bangalore) for 12 years. He initiated support center in Bangalore and Belgaum to provide HIV affected destitute persons care and rehabilitation.
With a Masters in Social Work and Doctorate in Sociology, Fr George has written the book named “The Empty Nest,” on the rehabilitation model for leprosy. The Indian government conferred a national award that he received from President Abdul Kalam in 2003. He has also received the Mother Award for selfless service in 2012 and Best Citizen of Bangalore Award from Namma Bengaluru Foundation in 2013.