It’s been three days since death of Kannada star Puneeth Rajkumar, after a sudden cardiac arrest. His eyes were donated and now, four youth have got a second lease of life because of him. The recipients, three male and one female, underwent transplant surgery in last two days at Narayana Nethralaya. In order to abide by the rules and protect the privacy of the patients, much details on them weren’t disclosed by the hospital.
Each eye of the late actor was used to treat two patients. The superior and deeper layers of the cornea were separated. The superior layer was transplanted to two patients who had superficial corneal disease, and only the deeper layer was transplanted to patients with endothelial or deep corneal layer disease. This, according to the hospital, is quite a rare occurrence.
New lease of life for 4 young people
“All four patients are in between 20 and 30 years of age. They were on the waiting list for over 6 months now. Due to Covid-19, eye donations had stopped completely. Earlier, we used to do at least 200 transplant surgeries per month in our hospital. Things are getting better for the past 2-3 months. But the waiting list is long. So we made the best use of available eyes and instead of two, we were able to do successful transplant in 4 patients,” said Dr Bhujang Shetty, Chairman, Narayana Nethralaya to News18.
How is the surgery done?
He further explained the procedure: The procedures that were performed on the patients were two different techniques of lamellar keratoplasty. Deep Anterior Lamellar Keratoplasty (DALK) – the outer or superficial part of cornea was transplanted for two young patients with corneal dystrophy and keratoconus. Both these conditions affect predominantly the superficial layer of the cornea, while the deeper part of the eye is normal. Hence, only the superior part was replaced and the endothelium of the patient was retained. This greatly reduces the chance of graft rejection.
Descemet’s Stripping Endothelial Keratoplasty (DSEK) – inner or deeper layer of the cornea is transplanted for two patients with corneal endothelial decompensation affecting the inner most layer of the cornea. In this procedure, only the endothelium is replaced and usually done with a small incision and few sutures. This avoids full thickness cornea transplant, is more comfortable for the patient and allows faster recovery.
Not just Four, there are more
These were the surgical details. Further, the limbal rim (white part of the eye near the circumference of the cornea) that was not used for the transplants, has been sent to laboratory to generate ‘Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells’ for potential use in patients with Limbal Stem Cell deficiency, chemical injuries, acid burns and other serious disorders.
So there is a very high chance that a few more than these four patients get to see the light of the day thanks to Puneeth Rajkumar. Dr. Yathish Shivanna, Dr. Sharon D’Souza, Dr. Harsha Nagaraj, Dr. Rohit Shetty Dr. Gairik Kundu and Mr. Veeresh were on the surgical team.