It was such emotional dawn at a house in Tenjowaringin Village, Selawu sub-District, Tasikmalaya. The family and relatives of late Susi Fasalawati gathered, reciting prayers and Al Qur’an verses to send their departed family member.
This funeral procession is not the usual one. Apart from reciting the prayers, there was also a cornea surgery belonging to the late Susi. The cut-off time is within 6 hours after the donor is deceased.
Her cornea was removed by highly-trained personnel. It was a quick procedure, not taking more than 10 minutes, just like taking off contact lenses.
After this procession was done, the family started the burial ceremony. Meanwhile, Susi’s cornea still had a long way to go.
EYE DONOR READY VILLAGE
Susi was one of the 3,000 donor candidates from Tenjowaringin Village in Tasikmalaya.
In this village, 80 percent of the habitants are members of Jemaat Ahmadiyah Indonesia. This village, located between Tasikmalaya and Garut, is well-known as the largest basis for Ahmadiyah in the Tasikmalaya area. For them, the eye donor is a common thing.
Only in December 2018, this village declared itself as an Eye Donor Ready Village. This is a part of the national programme of Eye Donor Family from Jemaat Ahmadiyah Indonesia.
Rosini, one of the people from the village, shared that her father was one of the first donors.
“When my father passed away, we immediately remembered that he was a candidate. Amidst the mourning, we let the eye donor officer know regarding his last wish to donate his cornea. It was the first time, so many people came to witness the process,” Rosini said.
Rosini mentioned the reason why she and her family became donor candidates is because they want to help anyone out there to overcome blindness.
“When we died, our body will be decayed anyway. If we have something that can be beneficial for others, it would be fantastic. For instance, our cornea. If some other people can overcome their blindness because they have our corneas, it would be a great religious deed for us,” she said.
Dodi Kurniawan, the Coordinator of Eye Donor Ready Village in Tenjowaringin Village explained that currently there are around three thousand donors who are ready to donate their corneas once they pass away. The list of these eye donors is getting longer, not limited only to the members of Jemaat Ahmadiyah Indonesia, but also others.
Dodi said the main push factor for the people to become donors is humanity.
“The rationale is appreciation on humanity value taught in religion. To give the best of us for others is a noble thing to do. What has been done by these Ahmadis is the most appropriate thing to do for anyone from any group,” Dodi said.
WHEN THE CORNEA SHIFTED BODY
The paramedic who performs the cornea surgery for late Susi continued the task. He put the corneas in a container with a certain chemical solution. The container then put in another box, ready for a 3-hour journey to the Cicendo Eye Hospital in Bandung.
On the other end, the hospital staff is starting to contact the recipient candidates, asking them to get ready.
Corneas can only last for 2 weeks before transplanting to another body.
KBR was welcome to join in the operating room. One medical staff prepared the anesthesia process for the patient, while others took KBR into the cornea storage room.
“Corneas cannot be kept here for too long. As soon as it arrives, we deliver it to the queueing recipient candidates. Maximum of a week due to administrative processes and announcement,” Dedi, the medical staff at Cicendo Hospital said.
The surgery started once the patient is sedated. The sound from the heart detection machine breaks the silence in the operating room. Within one hour, the eye transplant surgery has completed.
Susi’s corneas have landed in a new home – eyes that once again have the chance to see the world.
The Head of West Java Eye Bank, Alma Lusyati, said that 3 percent of the Indonesian population suffered from blindness. This means there are 3 million blind people who need cornea in order to be able to see the world. In West Java itself, there are more than a thousand patients on the wait-list for eye donors.
This long list is inversely proportional to the number of the donor. Overall, there are only 14,000 eye donors from all over Indonesia who are ready to donate.
“The high cornea incident is incomparable to the availability of cornea in Indonesia. The quantity needed at the moment is almost a thousand, but the procedure of taking off the cornea can only be applied once the donor is deceased. So, the supply is very limited,” Alma said.
According to Alma, there are many myths among the society that had made people hesitant to donate their corneas. Some people assume that it will involve taking out of the whole eye-balls, some are worried that this incision will affect the condition of the deceased.
The fear, Alma said, came from a misunderstanding.
“People are scared, ‘when something is taken from my dead body, will I still be a perfect corpse?’ They are very naïve. That is why we joined hands with religious leaders in socializing this. We give them understanding that everything in our body can be beneficial for others,” Alma said.
Singer Eddy Hidayatullah, or famously known as Eddy Brokoli, had been ordained as an Indonesian Eye Donor since 2018. He often went to share information on the eye donating processes.
“Some people thought the procedure is carried out while we are still alive. Ridiculous, I know, but that is because they have limited knowledge and information. Frankly speaking, no matter how kind-hearted someone is, no one would want to donate their eyes while they are still alive, right?” Eddy Brokoli said.
He often emphasizes how noble it is to donate eyes. Something that can be done by anyone with any religion or social status.
“Hopefully, there will be more eye donors. I often mention, when we don’t need them anymore (red: our eyes), can’t somebody else have it?” Eddy said.
For the Jemaat Ahmadiyah Indonesia, donating eyes is not only an act of religious deed or humanity gesture. This is also an effort in reattaching the people of Tenjowaringin Village in Tasikmalaya, West Java.
In 2013, Ahmadi’s mosque was destroyed by some strangers. Many of them came from out of the village, causing damage to hundreds of houses. People were losing their belongings and assets.
Once everything calmed down, the Ahmadis were back to Tenjowaringin Village to rebuild and reorganize their lives. They are welcomed by the villagers because everyone knew the culprits were from other areas.
“Tenjowaringin was once known as a problematic place. For instance, on any conflicts or issues on religious misdirection. But after it became Eye Donor Ready Village, we could also see another side of Tenjowaringin. This has reattached the people,” Dodi Kurniawan said.
Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) also supports this programme. The Head of Human Resources Development of Nahdlatul Ulama in Tasikmalaya, Andi Ibnu Hadi mentioned that this eye donor programme from Jemaat Ahmadiyah Indonesia has helped eradicate the inter-group frictions.
NU also actively educates various parties to see this eye donor programme from Jemaat Ahmadiyah Indonesia as a humanitarian act.
“Differences are inevitable, just like various musical instruments that can be collaborated to create a beautiful harmony,” he said.
Tenjowaringin Village now has a warm and welcoming atmosphere. The Ahmadis can live peacefully and practice their religious beliefs.
“People are living peacefully here. We do not sweat over religious differences. We maintain a good relationship with each other. If we remember the old days, it wasn’t even caused by people from this village either,” Dodi said.
FLOODED WITH ENTHUSIASTS
The list of eye donors in Tenjowaringin Village is growing. Young and old are registering themselves to share good deeds.
The terms and conditions are simple. Donors should not be infected with HIV/AIDS or hepatitis, and above 17 years of age. Gina Nurhasina Ihsan is only 16 years of age, but she has already registered as a donor.
“This eye donor programme for Jemaat Ahmadiyah Indonesia can be my religious deed. While we can be useful to others, this can also be a way to obtain access to Heaven,” Gina said.
Another donor is Nukila Gedafatin, she is around the same age as Gina. She also actively straightens the wrong myths on eye donation to her school friends.
“Many people are still not familiar with this issue. The rationale behind my decision to become a donor is to help anyone out there who is in need. No other reason,” she said.
Original source: Cahaya dari Ahmadiyah