Organ Donors, Actors, and Eye Surgeons

Before I got my license as a teenager, I decided to mark that I wanted to be an organ donor. My parents encouraged me to, and I have no religious or other objections that would prevent me from being one. Although it’s painful to consider the possibility that I might die, I know rationally that putting that little mark on my license could make a big difference in someone else’s life.

Candles and incense were lit to remember the dead

Organ donation is widely promoted in the US, but it’s still rare in Nepal. However, after Mamu died, Buwa donated her eyes to the Tilganga Eye Centre. On Saturday, there was a ceremony to honor people who have given their eyes after death, and since Mamu donated her eyes, we went to attend the event. There were quite a few people in the crowd, which is a fantastic sign. To get that many people interested in and supporting organ donation is a great thing. Outside of the hospital, they built a display with flowers that listed all of the deceased donors’ names, and as part of the ceremony, family members of the dead lit incense and candles around the display. Some families got to meet the recipients of their love ones’ eyes: we didn’t, however, because the children who received Mamu’s eyes are very young, but the doctor who operated on these kids told us that he’ll introduce us to them in a few years.

Joel is the guy on the right

Tilganga Eye Centre is a really incredible place that works to treat patients from all walks of life. One of the people who drives the work there is a man named Doctor Sanduk Ruit. He’s a fantastic eye surgeon who has traveled all around Nepal to perform cataract surgery on people living in rural areas. He’s also done a great job of increasing publicity for the hospital. One way he’s successfully brought attention to the centre is by making connections with well-known people who become brand ambassadors for Tilganga. Recently he made a connection with the actor Joel Edgerton who was able to make it to Nepal and come to the event on Saturday. Joel’s most recent film is called Warrior, which Tri and I saw a few weeks ago. I can’t watch fight films to easily (I cringe when somebody gets hurt), so I was in and out of the room while Tri was watching, but Tri sat through it from start to finish and really enjoyed it.

Here‘s and article about his trip to Nepal and Tilganga. He’s a super easy going, down to earth kind of guy, and I’m really excited for Tilganga because I think his support will help them increase other support to the hospital from abroad.

Besides attrracting actors, Tilganga also attracts world-class doctors, often those who want to make a difference in the lives of Nepali people or who want to give back somehow. One such doctor is a well-known lasik eye surgeon based in both the US and the UK.

I first got glasses in the third grade and then switched over to contacts in seventh, but I’ve never felt comfortable with either of my two options. Glasses feel heavy on my face, and contacts are unwearable past 8 or 9pm for me. I’ve wanted to have lasik eye surgery done, but I my eyes may continue to change in my twenties, so I’m wary of doing the procedure right now. However, Buwa thinks that if I do decide to have the surgery done, I might be able to get it done with this doctor.

Lasik Surgery Equipment

Besides having a fantastic doctor, Tilganga also has great equipment made by the German company Zeiss. If I have eye surgery done in the US, I’d probably have it performed at an average place with an average doctor for a couple thousand dollars to do one eye. For both eyes, the price could rise above $4000 dollars, but if I do it here, I might be able to get it done by this great surgeon with great equipment for a few hundred dollars. I’m finding this idea hard to resist. My mom is pretty against me doing it Nepal, but maybe I can convince her that it will be okay. There’s lots of time for me to decide anyway, so I’ll do some research and keep thinking about it.


10 thoughts on “Organ Donors, Actors, and Eye Surgeons

  1. Yikes! I am sure you will return to Nepal when you are older and could have it done then if you choose. How about the Wilmer eye institute at Johns Hopkins?

  2. I can see why you are intrigued by the doctor. He does look accomplished. There are so many good places to get Lasik. It’s a good idea to find out the complication rate for the doctor.

  3. I used to work for an ophthalmologist (and and optometrist), so if you want to learn more about getting lasik stateside, let me know! (Also, at least in the US, they don’t let you get it until your vision has stabilized for a while, so don’t worry.)

  4. P recently watched Warrior as well and enjoyed it, and he mentioned to me the other day that the actor from the movie was in Nepal, so it was interesting to read that you were at the same event.

    I have also marked my license to be an organ donor. We were talking about this at my book club on Sunday… we read a really interesting book this month (I recommend it if you can get your hands on it) called “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot, and it discussed cell culture and genetics and the ethics of scientists using tissue cultures from patients for research. The discussion stemmed from the life of a woman who died of cervical cancer in 1951 (Henrietta Lacks) whose tumor cells were taken without consent and they were the first cells to survive in a laboratory environment. The polio vaccine, and hundreds (probably thousands) of other scientific break throughs were made using her cells (and they are still used today), however her family didn’t know until 25 years after her death, and even though their mother’s cell line was a multi-billion dollar industry her family never saw any profits, and in fact several of her own children couldn’t even get adequate health care because they were too poor to have proper health insurance coverage.

    Anyway… as part of the discussions the woman who chose the book said that her sister signed up to be an organ donor for everything but her eyes. She said she was too freaked out by the idea of someone else looking through her eyes that she is willing to give anything and everything else but those. I guess I never really thought about it like that… but I guess if I’m dead, I’m dead, and I’d rather my body be used for something good.

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