From losing her eyesight to becoming a campaigner and encouraging people to donate their eyes — this is the inspiring story of Varsha Ved.
Before the year 2000, Varsha Ved, a resident of Mumbai, had been working as an accountant for over 15 years. Sometime during that period she got conjunctivitis. Although the initial condition appeared to have healed, Varsha caught another related infection at the age of 40. And this time it led to the loss of almost 90% of her vision. The doctors told her that the infection had affected her cornea in both eyes and she would need eye transplant surgeries.
“That was the first time when I heard about eye transplants. I was really nervous even after the doctors explained the whole process. But my family supported me and gave me the courage to get the surgery done,” she says.
Varsha registered herself with the Eye Bank Coordination & Research Centre (EBCRC) in Parel, but had to wait for two long years before she was finally called for a transplant. The surgery went well. She regained vision in one eye in about two months and her second surgery was scheduled for 2003.
“I can see very clearly since then,” she says excitedly. “I felt like I had received this gift of a new life after my second surgery. Those two years when I was waiting for a donor made me realise how difficult life becomes for people who cannot see. I had to face several troubles with respect to work and family responsibilities. That was when I thought that I should not let this new life go to waste; that I should use it to help other people.”
Varsha decided not to go back to being an accountant and started working with the eye bank in Parel to spread awareness about eye donations.
EBCRC provided her with the basic training for the same, and in 2004 she started working with Rajawadi Hospital for donation programmes carried out by EBCRC. Her responsibility was to counsel people and encourage them to donate their eyes.
“That experience was really enriching and about 200 people donated their eyes after speaking with me. I shared my own experience to help them understand why they should donate their eyes. It gives me immense satisfaction every time someone donates eyes and someone gains vision. It feels like I am paying the debt of the person who donated eyes for me,” she says.
From that point onwards, Varsha decided to dedicate her life to the cause of eye donations. Till today, she has encouraged over 1,000 people to donate their eyes. In 2014 she started working with four hospitals where she now encourages not just patients, but also doctors, nurses and the entire hospital staff to donate their eyes.
“While doing this work, I closely witnessed the pain and problems that people in the world have to face on a daily basis. And it has changed my entire approach and thinking towards work. I realised that God has given us a lot. We should be satisfied with what we have and should work for social causes. My kids were 10-12 years old at that time. They used to come with me to the hospital and they also saw the struggles of people. Today, instead of chasing personal gains, they try and work for social welfare and that makes me happy,” she says.
The 56-year-old is on duty 24×7, 365 days. Whenever someone’s death is reported from any of the four hospitals sh works in, she goes there and helps the family with the procedures to be followed. She appeals to everyone to step forward and donate their eyes, and even to encourage people in their localities to do the same. You can contact Varsha by writing to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story is presented as part of our effort towards the National Eye Donation Fortnight 2016. You too can help the visually challenged. Donate your eyes, change someone’s life forever.
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