Joining forces with the country’s leading hospitals and vision health organizations, Eversight is developing sustainable solutions to assist the nearly 165,000 Pakistanis suffering with blindness.
Collin Ross, Vice President of Global Development, is leading the initiative approved in November by the National Committee for Eye Health, which is comprised of Pakistani government representatives and non-governmental organizations.
“Receiving universal authorization for the project was a milestone moment, and now we can move forward with providing the resources and knowledge to build a proven system for transplantation,” Ross said. “The impact we can have for thousands of people is profound, because it’s a life-changing moment for entire families when a loved one receives the gift of sight.”
Support for the plan is gaining traction among Pakistani Americans, with one Detroit-area businessman pledging $360,000 for the program.
One of the major hurdles is changing how eye, organ and tissue donation is regarded by the people in Pakistan, according to Dr. Busharat Ahmad, Chair of the Eversight International Board of Directors. Eye banking, Dr. Ahmad said, is almost nonexistent in the world’s sixth-most populous nation because of the lack of donors. Shifting the view of donation is a grassroots-level effort that starts by obtaining fatwas—a ruling on a point of Islamic law given by a recognized authority—and reaching out to religious scholars so they can dispel misconceptions that donation is prohibited by the Islamic religion.
By connecting with community leaders, Pakistanis are learning about donation and its positive effects from someone they trust. Ross is also traveling extensively within Pakistan, organizing conferences and meetings to foster relationships and discussions about how a robust donation program is the foundation of eye banking.
“It’s a great example of the Eversight approach that is collaborative and partnership-oriented,” Ross said. “It’s important for us to respect and understand the local culture if we’re going to make any significant progress.”
Bridging the gap between the Pakistanis who need cornea transplants with the number of donors coincides with Eversight efforts to establish fully functional eye banks throughout the country, staffed and managed by local professionals using Eversight clinical best practices. It’s a major undertaking only possible because of the continued support from generous philanthropic supporters.
Eversight is partnering with Pakistan’s top cornea transplant institutions to build a national eye banking system. They include:
• Rawalpindi Al-Shifa Trust Eye Hospital
• Rawalpindi Armed Forces Eye Institute
• Lahore King Edward Medical University
• Peshawar Lady Reading Hospital
• Karachi Layton Rahmatulla Benevolent Trust
• Karachi Pakistan Eye Bank Society
• Karachi Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation