Marawi

Marawi becomes Mindanao’s center for cornea retrieval

Merlyn Manos
Marawi becomes Mindanao’s center for cornea retrieval
Marawi City-based Amai Pakpak Medical Center is now Mindanao's center for cornea retrieval with the state-run hospital formalizing its partnership with the Eye Bank Foundation of the Philippines

MARAWI CITY, Philippines – Doctors at the state-run Amai Pakpak Medical Center (APMC) in Marawi City restored the vision of 11-year-old Bin Bashier Pangandaman whose cornea was damaged by years of exposure to digital devices.

The boy was the first to be operated on by eye surgeons at the AMPC when it pilot-tested its cornea retrieval center. 

The surgery was a success, and Pangandaman’s father said his family was very grateful.

Bin Bashier practically grew up spending hours tinkering with gadgets and, in the process, damaged his eyesight.

Ali said the boy had been overexposed to blue light from computers, mobile phones, and other digital gadgets since he was one year old. 

“We were in Qatar at that time and we hardly paid attention as the child played with gadgets at home. We regret that now,” Ali said.

Bin Bashier said he was thankful that doctors at the APMC found a donor for him and gave his vision back. 

The APMC is now Mindanao’s center for cornea retrieval with the state-run hospital formalizing its partnership with the Eye Bank Foundation of the Philippines.

AGREEMENT. Doctors at the state-run Amai Pakpak Medical Center in Marawi and the Eye Bank Foundation of the Philippines show their agreement to establish Mindanao’s first cornea retrieval center. – Merlyn Manos/Rappler

APMC and the foundation signed a memorandum of agreement to establish and institutionalize Mindanao’s first cornea retrieval center in Marawi City on Wednesday, August 17.

Dr. Maria Dominga Padilla, the foundation’s president, said the APMC was chosen simply because “it is ready.”

“They have shown that they are really prepared for this. It’s not enough that a hospital wants to put up an eye retrieval center. The center needs dedicated personnel, and the hospital needs to show its capability,” Padilla said.

In the case of the Marawi-based hospital, it has a well-established ophthalmology department and cornea specialists.

AMPC chief Dr. Shalimar Sani-Rakiin said maintaining the retrieval center would be a “great challenge,” given the task of looking for cornea donors.

This early, there are about 40 patients on the list of APMC waiting for cornea donations.

Rakiin said another challenge is the apprehension of some religious groups in the predominantly Muslim Marawi City about eye tissue retrieval.

Some Muslim sectors maintain that any kind of dissection or mutilation of the corpse is a desecration, and the dead should be buried intact.

The physicians, however, cited a fatwa (religious ruling on a point of Islamic law) that the cornea is merely a tissue and not an organ, and therefore, the procedure is permissible.

“It’s not contra-indicated in Islam,” said Rakiin.

The APMC announced that it welcomes cornea donations on behalf of people in need of corneal transplantation.

Padilla said eye surgeons only need to excise a few millimeters of small tissue to be able to perform transplantation on a donee.

The eye tissue can be harvested within 12 hours after death, and it takes only two weeks to preserve it. – Rappler.com

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