Wed. Dec 1st, 2021

Doctors say more than 7,000 people have committed to post-mortem eye donations since the film star’s death last month.

Grieving fans of the beloved Indian film star Puneeth Rajkumar promise to give up their eyes after the actor’s untimely death brought his post-mortem organ donation into focus.

The “Powerstar” – so named for his noisy action roles – died of a heart attack in Bangalore at the age of 46 last month, with thousands of grieving admirers crowding the city’s streets to squeeze, cry and share.

News reports in the days that followed revealed that Rajkumar wanted the donation of his eyes, with enough eye tissue saved to restore the sight of four people.

Commuters pass by poster of deceased actor Puneeth Rajkumar in Bangalore [File: Manjunath Kiran/AFP]

The tradition runs in the actor’s family. Both his parents made the same promise before their death and doctors say the example has now been taken seriously in Bangalore.

“He kind of reminded people that you should donate eyes … instead of burning or burying them,” said Rekha Gyanchand, the medical director at Lions International Eye Bank.

“We see a lot of people coming forward to donate,” she added. “Awareness has really increased.”

At the nearby Narayana Nethralaya Hospital, vinyl posters and pamphlets showed Rajkumar’s smiling face, along with a message urging prospective donors to give the gift sight.

A Narayana Nethralaya volunteer displays an eye donor card at an event organized in memory of Puneeth Rajkumar, in Bangalore [Manjunath Kiran/AFP]

A line of young men waited in front of a goat to talk to staff and fill out pledge forms.

More than 7,000 members of the public have committed to post-mortem eye donations since Rajkumar’s death, the clinic’s managing director K Bhujang Shetty said.

“In the days after Puneeth died, 112 eyes were removed from the recently deceased after family members agreed to transplants,” he added.

“Someone will benefit”

Among the donors was Subramani, a driver who lost his job after his eyesight deteriorated but received a transplant just two weeks ago. He offered the eyes of his recently deceased brother.

“We did not want to waste his eyes and would like to donate it to someone like the person who donated eyes to me,” he said.

A Narayana Nethralaya staff arranges pamphlets and brochures at an eye-opening pledge event held in memory of Puneeth Rajkumar, Bangalore [Manjunath Kiran/AFP]

Rajkumar first made a name for himself as a child actor and went on to star in about 30 films, with his debut action-comedy movie Appu being one of the biggest hits.

He has established himself as one of the most recognizable stars of the Kannada-language film industry whose center was Bangalore, better known to the world as India’s most important technological hub.

News of his death sent the city into shock, with a crowd carrying the ambulance chasing his body away from the hospital, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi described the loss as a “cruel turn of fate”.

Rajkumar is survived by his wife Ashwini Revanth and two children.

Among his ardent fans is Bangalore housewife Uma Aravind Kumar, who decided to donate her own eyes.

“After the (example) of Puneeth, our son pawned his eyes without our knowledge,” she said. “I liked it and I also wanted to donate. Someone will benefit from this. ”

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