In India, actor Puneeth Rajkumar’s death leads to thousands of eye donation pledges

The Indian actor, who passed away last month at the age of 46, has donated his eyes. Since then, thousands of pledges have been registered in the country.

Indian actor Puneeth Rajkumar, who died last month, has donated his eyes to science in keeping with a family tradition. This revelation resulted in crowds of admirers in the eye banks in order to follow his lead.

Nicknamed “Powerstar”, due to his roles in numerous action films, the comedian died prematurely of a heart attack at the age of 46 in Bangalore last month.

Upon news of his death, thousands of fans gathered in the streets of the city to share their grief. The crowd watched and followed the ambulance that was transporting his body to the hospital. Prime Minister Narendra Modi called his loss a “cruel twist of fate”. In the days that followed, the press revealed that Puneeth Rajkumar had donated his eyes. His cornea could allow four people to regain sight.

“Family tradition”

“His family has a tradition of giving their eyes,” Dr. Bhujang Shetty, director general of Narayana Netralaya Hospital, who collected the deceased’s donation, authorized by his brother Raghavendra, told AFP. He followed the example of his doctor father in 2006 and his mother in 2017 who had donated their eyes after their deaths, according to the doctor.

This revelation took an unexpected turn in the Bangalore area, according to city doctors.

“We are observing a large number of people who show up to register their donation,” Rekha Gyanchand, medical director at the International Lions Eye Bank, told AFP. “There is a real awareness. He kind of reminded people to give their eyes,” rather than leaving them for cremation or burial, she said.

At Narayana Netralaya Hospital, posters and brochures show the star’s smiling face, accompanied by a message urging the public to donate sight. A line of young men line up at a trestle, waiting to speak to staff and fill out pledge forms. More than 7,000 people have pledged to donate their eyes since Rajkumar’s death, according to Dr Bhujang Shetty.

“In the days following Puneeth’s death, we collected 112 eyes”, granted for transplants by relatives of people who had just died, he added.

“Don’t lose your eyes”

Among the deceased was the brother of Subramani, a driver made redundant because of his visual impairment who himself had a corneal transplant just two weeks ago.

“Now that my brother is dead we don’t want to lose his eyes, we would like to give his eyes to someone and (act) like the one who gave me eyes,” he told AFP .

Puneeth Rajkumar made his film debut as a child and had over 30 films to his credit, including his first major action film titled Appu, in Kannada language.

He had established himself as one of the most prominent stars of the film industry of Bangalore (center) better known as the city of high technology in India.

Puneeth Rajkumar leaves behind his wife Ashwini Revanth and two children, as well as fans distraught with grief. Among them, this housewife, Uma Aravind Kumar in Bangalore, decided to donate her eyes: “Following Puneeth, our son promised his eyes without our knowledge,” she told AFP , “I liked it and I wanted to donate (mine) too”.

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