The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North

The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North
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Friday, July 18, 2014

Bhutan receives corneas from Nepal

Nepal medical institute to supply two corneas a month

Eye: More than 200 visually impaired patients could regain their eyesight, with a medical institute in Nepal committing to provide two corneas every month to Thimphu hospital from August.

Ophthalmologist at the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck national referral hospital, Dr Nor Tshering, said Nepal’s Tilganga institute of ophthalmology’s would supply the corneas.

Although Nepal has been supplying corneas to Bhutan until now, it was not on regular basis. “They provided, as and when they could arrange, and accordingly we called patients for transplant here,” Dr Nor Tshering said.

The commitment to supply regularly comes after cornea harvesting in the Tilganga institute’s eye bank improved, he said. Although the corneas come for free, the government will bear the processing fee and transportation cost. “I’m writing to the health ministry and as soon as the payment is made, we’ll get the supply,” Dr Nor Tshering said.

An eye bank will also be launched in JDWNRH some time next month. Dr Nor Tshering said, although Bhutanese are reluctant to donate eyes, few have come forward, pledging verbally to donate. Once the eye bank is operational, JDWNRH will start cornea-pledging system. “Similar to that of Nepal, it will take a while before our people start to feel the need of eye donation,” he said.

But before one donates his/her eyes, doctors will conduct a test to know the medical history of the donor and the quality of cornea.

Since 2008, the hospital has conducted 30 cornea transplants to date. More than 200 visually impaired patients are awaiting eye surgery, with most of them above 50 years.

By Nirmala Pokhrel

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