PIG EYES FOR THE BLIND MEN AND WOMEN IN CHINA: WHAT DO YOU SAY ABOUT IT?

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PIG EYES FOR THE BLIND MEN AND WOMEN IN CHINA: WHAT DO YOU SAY ABOUT IT? ….

Information gathered indicates that there is a rapid increase in eye diseases the world over leading to blindness and low vision on many men and women.

According to information from the World Health Organization (WHO), 285 million people are estimated to be visually impaired worldwide today. With 39 million of them being blind while 246 having low vision , about 90% of the worlds visually impaired live in low-income settings including Africa with 82% of the blind aged 50 and above.

Globally, uncorrected refractive errors are the main cause of moderate and severe visual impairment while cataracts remain the leading cause of blindness in middle- and low-income countries.

Some of the eye diseases are trachoma, diabetes and others. To deal with the eye problems, the World Health Organization has taken an initiative through Vision 2020 to eliminate avoidable blindness through many individuals, non-governmental development organizations, government agencies, and ministries of health that work in the field of prevention of blindness. In spite of the introduction of this initiative and others, nations such as China are experimenting innovative but controversial means of solving increasing avoidable blindness in that nation.

In a research by Angela Caito is a professional freelance writer Chinese scientists have spent the last ten years working on an artificial cornea made from the eyes of pigs. This artificial cornea will begin to go into mass production this July.

Huang Yuanzhen, a 52 year old farmer from the Songzi Township in Central China’s Hubei Province, has been able to see due to the implantation of a pig cornea in her right eye for the last five years.

Huang was injured in 2010 when a piece of bamboo jabbed her right eye while working the fields. When she was able to open her eye after the injury, she was unable to see. Doctors deemed that she had an ulcer covering more than 50% of her right cornea, thus causing blindness in the right eye.

Zhang Mingchang, a physician at Wuhan Union Hospital asked Huang if she would be open to have a transplant operation on her eye to implant an artificial cornea. The physician explained that the cornea would be from a pig.

Huang stated that when the suggestion first came to light, she was not only scared but also felt disgusted at the idea.

She stated, “I felt scared about it being a pig’s eye but the doctor said if I choose this, the company that developed the cornea would pay for the surgery.”

Due to the constant throbbing pain in her eye as well as the fact that she found herself falling and walking into others, she decided to proceed with the implant surgery.

Cornea surgery in Wuhan hospital

Pukhtunkhwa Times

Post-surgery

Huang said that after surgery her eye-sight was blurry. Unknown to her at that time, she was the first pig cornea transplant recipient in China.

Her poor right eye has healed over time and she now has around 80% vision restored. It is compatible with her left eye.

When doctors saw the success with Huang’s surgery, they performed 114 more transplants of which 109 were successful as well. They found that in each of the successful operations, the artificial, or pig corneas, worked very closely to the way human cornea transplants work.

The China Food and Drug Administration provided a medical certificate to Aixintong, the cornea replacement derived from the research team. This grants the company the approval to proceed with the transplants and recognizes the product as the first cornea bioengineered and patented by Chinese scientists.

For years, corneas were able to be sourced from executed criminals. In January 2015, the National Health and Family Planning Commission stated that human organs could only be received from donors. This would greatly lessen the number of organs available for transplant.

Aixintong will now be mass produced beginning in July and the pig corneas will be provided through a pig farm in Shenzhen in the Guangdong Province. Each pig has an ID number and it will be easy to trace if they locate a cornea that is not faulty.

The hospital is currently working to bring in around 100 new doctors to be able to perform the surgeries and maintain the transplant program.

The Fourth Military Medical University, China

Where this began

Research began nearly 10 years prior to Huang’s transplant surgery when a research scientist and professor at The Fourth Military Medical University, Jin Yan, was sent a request from China Regenerative Medicine International, a company located in Hong Kong, to assist with the development of artificial corneas.

With nearly 5000 cornea donations annually, a very trivial number of patients can be helped each year. Karatitis, a swelling of the cornea, affects more than 4 million people in China each year and has been steadily rising by more than 100,000 annually. Cornea transplant is the only viable solution for the disease.

Many scientists worldwide have worked for many years to create an artificial cornea, yet none have been successful thus far.

The eye had to have similar traits to a human eye and the animal needed to be raised in a healthy environment. Scientists had initially considered using cats or goats but eventually decided to use pigs.

Researchers worked for several years to find ways to combat rejection after transplant surgery. During studies, more than 10,000 pigs were used as test subjects by the team.

The artificial cornea has been named Aixintong, an entirely made up name, in order to keep the fact that the corneas are from pigs.

Medical research lab in China

Getty Images

Diminishing Doubts

Jin Yan said that there were many that did not believe in his cornea research when he started several years ago. Many were in complete doubt there would be success.

A U.S. research team published a paper in the Association of Research in Vision and Ophthalmology that pointed out the many imperfections that are currently used in decellularization. They specifically noted Jin Yan’s research with cornea replacement.

Physicians in China were very skeptical as well. Huang’s physician, Zhang Mingchang, said he had high doubts that the surgery would work as he wasn’t sure Aixintong was safe at all. He kept other corneas, from human donors, to use in case the surgery did not go well.

When he saw Huang again in 2013, three years after surgery, his doubts began to subside as he saw how well her vision had improved. Zhang has now performed nearly 50 transplants using Aixintong and has a 90% success rate with them.

Huang herself was not told there were doubts about the cornea replacement surgery. She is happy that she is able to see now and says that the cornea replacement works well.

With the pig eye cornea replacement, Huang will now be able to work in the fields and farm again to be able to provide financially for her family. Others that have had the transplant surgery using Aixintong are able to continue leading productive lives with their site restored.

Chinese scientists have spent the last ten years working on an artificial cornea made from the eyes of pigs. This artificial cornea will begin to go into mass production this July.

Huang Yuanzhen, a 52 year old farmer from the Songzi Township in Central China’s Hubei Province, has been able to see due to the implantation of a pig cornea in her right eye for the last five years.

Huang was injured in 2010 when a piece of bamboo jabbed her right eye while working the fields. When she was able to open her eye after the injury, she was unable to see. Doctors deemed that she had an ulcer covering more than 50% of her right cornea, thus causing blindness in the right eye.

Zhang Mingchang, a physician at Wuhan Union Hospital asked Huang if she would be open to have a transplant operation on her eye to implant an artificial cornea. The physician explained that the cornea would be from a pig.

Huang stated that when the suggestion first came to light, she was not only scared but also felt disgusted at the idea.

She stated, “I felt scared about it being a pig’s eye but the doctor said if I choose this, the company that developed the cornea would pay for the surgery.”

Due to the constant throbbing pain in her eye as well as the fact that she found herself falling and walking into others, she decided to proceed with the implant surgery.

Cornea surgery in Wuhan hospital

Pukhtunkhwa Times

Post-surgery

Huang said that after surgery her eye-sight was blurry. Unbeknownst to her at that time, she was the first pig cornea transplant recipient in China.

Her right has healed over time and she now has around 80% vision restored. It is compatible with her left eye.

When doctors saw the success with Huang’s surgery, they performed 114 more transplants of which 109 were successful as well. They found that in each of the successful operations, the artificial, or pig corneas, worked very closely to the way human cornea transplants work.

The China Food and Drug Administration provided a medical certificate to Aixintong, the cornea replacement derived from the research team. This grants the company the approval to proceed with the transplants and recognizes the product as the first cornea bioengineered and patented by Chinese scientists.

For years, corneas were able to be sourced from executed criminals. In January 2015, the National Health and Family Planning Commission stated that human organs could only be received from donors. This would greatly lessen the number of organs available for transplant.

Aixintong will now be mass produced beginning in July and the pig corneas will be provided through a pig farm in Shenzhen in the Guangdong Province. Each pig has an ID number and it will be easy to trace if they locate a cornea that is not faulty.

The hospital is currently working to bring in around 100 new doctors to be able to perform the surgeries and maintain the transplant program.

The Fourth Military Medical University, China

Where this began

Research began nearly 10 years prior to Huang’s transplant surgery when a research scientist and professor at The Fourth Military Medical University, Jin Yan, was sent a request from China Regenerative Medicine International, a company located in Hong Kong, to assist with the development of artificial corneas.

With nearly 5000 cornea donations annually, a very trivial number of patients can be helped each year. Karatitis, a swelling of the cornea, affects more than 4 million people in China each year and has been steadily rising by more than 100,000 annually. Cornea transplant is the only viable solution for the disease.

Many scientists worldwide have worked for many years to create an artificial cornea, yet none have been successful thus far.

The eye had to have similar traits to a human eye and the animal needed to be raised in a healthy environment. Scientists had initially considered using cats or goats but eventually decided to use pigs.

Researchers worked for several years to find ways to combat rejection after transplant surgery. During studies, more than 10,000 pigs were used as test subjects by the team.

The artificial cornea has been named Aixintong, an entirely made up name, in order to keep the fact that the corneas are from pigs.

Medical research lab in China

Getty Images

Diminishing Doubts

Jin Yan said that there were many that did not believe in his cornea research when he started several years ago. Many were in complete doubt there would be success.

A U.S. research team published a paper in the Association of Research in Vision and Ophthalmology that pointed out the many imperfections that are currently used in decellularization. They specifically noted Jin Yan’s research with cornea replacement.

Physicians in China were very skeptical as well. Huang’s physician, Zhang Mingchang, said he had high doubts that the surgery would work as he wasn’t sure Aixintong was safe at all. He kept other corneas, from human donors, to use in case the surgery did not go well.

When he saw Huang again in 2013, three years after surgery, his doubts began to subside as he saw how well her vision had improved. Zhang has now performed nearly 50 transplants using Aixintong and has a 90% success rate with them.

Huang herself was not told there were doubts about the cornea replacement surgery. She is happy that she is able to see now and says that the cornea replacement works well.

With the pig eye cornea replacement, Huang will now be able to work in the fields and farm again to be able to provide financially for her family. Others that have had the transplant surgery using Aixintong are able to continue leading productive lives with their site restored.

The success story of medical scientists in china might be extraordinary, it remains to be seen whether all people especially in Africa middle east north Africa and parts of Africa who have doubts about the success of the experiment and those who hate pigs to adapt to the use of pig cornea to cure the blind to be able to see once a gain

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EANFOWORLD FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
0244 370345/ 0274853710/0208844791

abdulai.alhasan@gmail.com/eanfoworld@yahoo.com

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