The entire Pataudi family had pledged to donate their cornea several years ago. On August 6 - Organ Donation Day — organised by The Times of India, Soha Ali Khan talks to us about why the decision wasn't hard to take at all...
The cause of visual impairment was extremely important to Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi, and after his demise, it has become equally important for his family members, all of whom have also pledged to donate their cornea. Pataudi, who lost visibility in one eye at the age of 20, fought against the impairment for decades. Now, his family has taken up the onus. Among many other initiatives, they are expanding the eye hospital he started in Bhopal. While it is currently an out-patient hospital for surgeries like cataract, the plan is to make it in-patient soon.
"All this is only because of my father," says Soha, adding, "He was very passionate about it and that was the impetus for us. He donated his cornea and we were encouraged to do the same. I must have been around 17-18 years old when we did it. This is a cause he had been associated with for many decades. We used to joke with him because he had only one good eye. We would ask him which one of his eyes he would donate to science."
Soha says it's after the hospital's inception that she realised the extent of visual impairment in India and how helpful it is when people donate their eyes. "The figures of people suffering from blindness are staggering. One out of every three blind people in the world is an Indian. Fortunately, 80% of these cases are curable. Unfortunately, people don't have access to resources and money. That's why we never thought twice before pledging to donate our eyes."
In fact, so firm is the family's belief in the cause that Soha says all she remembers is the pride she felt when her father's eye was taken post his demise. "We were very proud of his decision. My mother was in-charge of this. She spoke to the right doctors and it was done very professionally. There was no question of it not being done. And I don't remember feeling any sense of intrusiveness. I understand the sentiments of people around who are grieving, but think of the person whose life you will change with your eyes."