Bangalore Claretians organise biggest global eye donation march

A third of the world's blind people, about 12 million people live in India. Of the nine million people who died in 2018, just over 68,000 people donated their corneas. Rally is held in five countries to raise awareness about organ donation.

New Delhi (AsiaNews/Agencies) – At least 100,000 people took part in the biggest global eye donation march in 227 locations in five countries.

Named BlindWalk 2019, the event was shepherded by Project Vision, an initiative undertaken Fr George Kannanthanam, a clergyman and activist from Bangalore (Karnataka), and the Claretian Fathers.

The walk, whose goal is to raise awareness about blindness and encourage people to donate corneas, was held on 10 October, World Sight Day. Participants walked blindfolded to show their solidarity and experience the daily challenges the blind have to face. They were led by volunteers without a blindfold or blind volunteers using a cane.

In India, this is the sixth BlindWalk. In addition to Bangalore, the event was held in Chandigarh, Haryana (picture 1); Shillong, Meghalaya (picture 4); in the archdiocese of Delhi; in Guwahati (Assam); and Calicut District (Kerala).

The march also took place in other countries. in the Philippines, the Institute of Consecrated Life in Asia organised it in Manila (picture 3). In Macao, the event was sponsored by St Joseph’s University (picture 2).

According to the World Health Organisation, India has about 12 million blind people, a third of the world’s blind population (about 39 million).

For Fr Kannanthanam, “It is unfortunate that only 68,409 persons donated their eyes in India last year despite nine million deaths.” But “Similar situations exist in most parts of the world.”

Noting that “there is a shortage of corneas in most countries,” the clergyman explained that “The number of persons who donated eyes in Karnataka was only 5,561. Whereas, neighbouring Tamil Nadu had almost double” that, i.e. “10,504, topping the national list.”