Doctors said that since the Kannada star passed away last month, more than 7,000 people have pledged to perform post-mortem eye donations.
After the actor’s untimely death brought his post-death organ donation into focus, the mourning fans of the beloved Indian film star Puneeth Rajkumar promised to give up their eyes.
The “power star”-named for his boisterous action role-died of a heart attack in Bangalore last month at the age of 46. Thousands of distressed admirers flocked to the city. Street, hug, cry and sympathy.
News reports in the following days showed that Rajkumar was willing to donate his eyes, saving enough eye tissue to restore the eyesight of four people.
This tradition is passed on in the actor’s family. His parents made the same promise before they died, and the doctor said that this example has now been taken seriously in Bangalore.
“He kind of reminded people that you should donate your eyes…not burn or bury them,” said Rekha Gyanchand, medical director of Lions Clubs International Eye Bank.
“We have seen a lot of people come forward to donate,” she added. “Awareness has indeed improved.”
At the nearby Narayana Nethralaya Hospital, vinyl posters and brochures showed Rajkumar’s smiling face, accompanied by a message urging potential donors to give sight gifts.
A row of young people waited in front of the trestle bridge to talk to the staff and fill out the promise form.
K Bhujang Shetty, the managing director of the clinic, said that since Rajkumar’s death, more than 7,000 members of the public have pledged eye donations for post-mortem examinations.
He added: “In the days after Punis’s death, we have collected 112 eyes from relatives who have recently passed away after agreeing to transplant.”
‘Someone will benefit’
Among the donors is Subramani, a driver who was unemployed due to deteriorating eyesight and underwent a transplant two weeks ago. He gave the eyes of his brother who had recently passed away.
“We don’t want to waste his eyes and are willing to donate them to people like the person who donated them to me,” he said.
Rajkumar first became famous as a child star, and later appeared in about 30 movies. His debut action comedy movie “Appu” is one of the most popular movies.
He has established himself as one of the most well-known stars in the Kannada film industry, with its center in Bangalore, which is the world-famous major technology center in India.
The news of his death shocked the city. The crowd chased the ambulance that carried his body out of the hospital. Prime Minister Narendra Modi described the loss as a “cruel turn of fate.”
Rajkumar left behind his wife Ashwini Revanth and two children.
Uma Aravind Kumar, a housewife in Bangalore, is one of his loyal fans, and she is determined to donate her eyes.
“After Puneeth’s (example), our son promised his eyes without our knowledge,” she said. “I like it, and I want to donate too. Someone will benefit from it.”