DGFG visits Delhi

Half time to establish a training program for cornea donation and eye banking

In June 2024, personal meetings of Dr. Shroff`s Charity Eye Hospitals (SCEH) and DGFG took place in Delhi, India. The GIZ-funded project aims to establish a transnational program for the training of specialists in cornea donation and eye banking. The trainings shall further increase the scope, quality and efficiency of cornea donations and pave the way for standardized and certified trainings. Within the two years project duration it is foreseen to train 80 individuals. The project leads Dr. Anna Salz and Rakhi Nathawat draw a successful balance after the training days and project meetings in India. This is the second joint project between DGFG and SCEH. The previous project ended in July 2023; during this project two new eye collection centers were established in the Delhi area yielding in more than 260 additional cornea collections.


A travel report by Dr Anna Salz

The journey began at the eye bank of Dr Shroff’s Charity Eye Hospital (SCEH). The project leaders Rakhi Nathwat and Dr Anna Salz presented the status of the project to ophthalmologists as well as the entire team of the eye bank. Together, the project team further consisting of tissue donation coordinators Nea Dierolf, Stefanie Eberhard and DGFG managing director Martin Börgel (DGFG) as well as eye doctors Dr Manisha Acharya, Dr Virender Sangwan and Sr. technician cum eye donation counselor Mr Suresh (SCEH) evaluated what had already been achieved and discussed the next steps for the project. On the next day, we went into the details of the training materials and methods of documentation to be able to track the successfully completed training courses and their impact on the everyday work.

Once again, it became clear that virtual meetings are good and important. But they cannot replace face-to-face meetings, brainstorming and true experiencing. On site we were able to go into much more detail, look at things closely, and evaluate them.

One of our highlights of the trip was the opportunity to visit the M.K. International Eye Bank in Indore about 1.5 hours flight South of Delhi, and to attend a training session with Rakhi Nathawat and Suresh. The eye bank is run by a non-for-profit private trust and handles the donation and evaluation of about 1,000 corneas per year. The institution had requested training from Dr Shroff’s and we took the chance to attend one day of the two-day training course.

The training for the Eye Recovery Technicians started with a theoretical lecture on the importance of training by experts and presented a method published by the SCEH for the standardized evaluation of corneal collection procedures. Then, Stefanie Eberhard and Nea Dierolf introduced our DGFG network and the joint project to the participants. This was followed by overviews of quality management and the legal basis for corneal donation. Videos presented the procedures for preparing the donation and the recovery of the cornea. Thereafter, all participants practiced what they had learnt on model eyes and were assessed by trainer Suresh.

The second day of training focused on the role of the eye donation counsellor, whose task is to screen potential donors and talk to their relatives for consent. We could unfortunately not participate in this training. However, during three intensive days in Delhi and could meet many committed people and gather wonderful impressions.

It was very interesting to see how tissue donation is approached in a different cultural context and what similarities and differences there are to our processes at the DGFG. It was particularly impressive for us to see that our many virtual meetings and the theoretical planning of training courses have now resulted in practical training for our colleagues on site.

It was also a great pleasure to observe the keen commitment and enthusiasm of the participants completing the training. We are proud that through our joint work with SCEH we can successfully support the training and further education of people in corneal donation.

This project is another important step in our international cooperation, with the prospect of establishing global and recognized training opportunities in tissue donation. We also greatly value the intercultural exchange, which gives us the opportunity to overcome barriers, to cultivate friendships and grow together. In the words of Yoko Ono ‘A dream you dream alone is just a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.'”

The project started in September 2023 with a duration of two years. It is being funded with 50,000 euros by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) as part of their Hospital Partnerships Global program.

Cooperation partners at Dr. Shroff`s Charity Eye Hospital: Rakhi Nathawat & Manisha Acharya, MD

DGFG contact:
Dr. rer. nat. Anna Salz | Phone: +49 (0) 511 559 357