Hyderabad, April , 2019: To raise awareness on early detection of eye cancer (Retinoblastoma) in children, L V Prasad Eye institute (LVPEI) is organizing the second edition of ‘WHITATHON’ Run on May 19 to commemorate the World Retinoblastoma Awareness Week that will be observed from May 13-19, 2019. VVS Laxman, Tom Moody, Yusuf Pathan and Siddharth Kaul from SunRisers Hyderabad, the Indian Premier League (IPL) team and Dr G N Rao, Chair, L V Prasad Eye Institute & Dr Swathi Kaliki, Head, Operation Eyesight Universal Institute for Eye Cancer, L V Prasad Eye Institute.,unveiled the Whitathon T-shirt today,while Dr Vijay Anand Reddy, Sr. Radiation Oncologist; Mr Yashwant Sinha, Senior Manager International Programs, Operation Eyesight Universal; Board Members of LVPEI, Mr Ramesh Prasad & Mrs Pratibha Rao; Ms Swathi Nannapaneni and Mr Rajeev Nannapaneni. Vice Chairman & CEO, NATCO; unveiled the Whitathon medals.
Tom Moody said, this institutes’ is an extraordinary story and a world leading one and everyone associated should be proud of it. We are extremely proud to be associated alongside this important mission. Raising awareness for something like this is a privilege for us to so. What we do on cricket field is really insignificant when you see what the Doctors can do for the young children to have a special life, regain the vision and see the world as we are lucky enough to see. Seeing children suffering is painful and if we can in any way raise awareness about this, it’s important we do so. Last year over a thousand had benefitted from funds raised by Whitathon and would want you to continue raising the money and make that figure ten thousand one day, even if it means in a couple of years. It can help to see lot more of smiling faces of young children. It is humbling to be associated with such a cause, it is special and close to our heart.
L V Prasad Eye Institute’s second edition of Whitathon to create awareness on Retinoblastoma eye cancer
VVS Laxman said, right from my childhood I always dreamt of playing for the country and representing the country in the game of cricket and the one who was always an inspiration to the entire cricket fraternity was Sir Don Bradman, I was never able to meet him, but watched a lot of videos, read a lot about him, got inspired by him being a role model for generations of cricketers around the world. Though I debuted in international cricket in 1996, I wasn’t fortunate to meet the great Don. But I am really happy to be amidst the Don of Ophthalmology, Dr GN Rao, here. He is a role model and inspiration to the entire country. In 31 years, he dedicated himself to serve needy people who would requirequality and efficient medical support, that’s something which he achieved, that’s something we all strive to achieve. Everyone has a dream and on accomplishing it you feel very satisfied, Dr GN Rao might also be feeling satisfied but he has also got a vision for next 25 years and that’s a hallmark of great people. Great people accomplish their dreams successfully but are never satisfied with their achievements, always on look out to achieve lot more and therefore they are called visionaries. The work this institution has done is mind boggling with 26mn people being treated here. Thank you very much for making us a part of this wonderful initiative, nice to know that last years Whitathon was a great success with close to 2500 participants and I will not be surprised if that number is doubled or tripled this year. I look forward to see this as an event everyone looks forward for and it should not be limited to Hyderabad alone and going further it should be held in different parts of the state and country. Whitathon is all about spreading awareness about eye cancer which can be cured, it is also about raising funds, so that lot of needy children can be cured of this dreaded ailment. LV Prasad treats everyone who comes to them irrespective of their social stature and around 60% to 70% of them can’t afford treatment. Every child needs a quality life, every child deserves vison so that every child can enjoy each and every moment of its life and that is what Whitathon is all about. We are proud to be associated with such initiatives, in any way if we can help initiatives like Whitathon and can contribute to society, there can’t be a bigger satisfaction than that.
Speaking on the occasion Dr GN Rao said, LV Prasad Eye Institute, will be completing 32 years of world class eye care service in June this year. A not for profit institution with the simple mission of anybody coming to any of our centres at the primary care centres in rural or remote tribal areas or the advanced tertiary care centre here, will be taken care of irrespective of the complexity of the problem whether they pay or not, which essentially means nobody is denied eyecare, irrespective of their financial status. We work through the five-tier system from the remote rural areas focussing on a 5000 population unit through Primary Care centres in Rural arears, these primary care centres are connected to Vision centres manned by well trained eye technicians, ten of the Vision centres are connected to a Secondary care centre, which in turn are connected to Tertiary Care centres and Advanced tertiary centres. More recently we have been able to do even corneal transplant at Secondary care centres, there by taking advanced care to the door step of the rural people, nowhere in the world this has happened, even medical schools are not performing corneal transplants yet. In the 31 years we have treated over 26.04 mn patients. We have the biggest eye bank in Asia today. We want to raise awareness about the eye cancers in children as India has the largest incidence of the disease and the Whitathon helps in this mission.
Dr Swathi Kaliki said, several children benefitted from funds raised last year’s Whitathon. We had two objectives in organising this run, there is a pressing need to raise awareness about eye cancers in children, because even educated are not aware of this and second objective is to raise funds to treat eye cancer patients, as percentage of patients who cannot afford treatment for cancer is much higher, the expense involved being over long term, with lifelong treatment and the funds raised help. Going forward we want to scale up and replicate this event in every place where there is a footprint of LV Prasad Eye Institute, currently we have more than 205 centres and raise awareness about this condition there as well. We would also educate about this condition amongst eyecare professionals so that they diagnose and refer the cases early, so that they can be treated. Retinoblastoma is a highly curable cancer, in more than 98% of the cases life can be salvaged. But early detection is key to it. Two main symptoms seen with this are the white reflex and the squint, never ignore these two things seen in a child and immediately get a good eye examination of the child by an ophthalmologist.
Last year, LVPEI treated 1147 cases of retinoblastoma free of cost, thanks to the funds raised through their first edition of Whitathon. This year over 5000 participants are expected. “Let no child die of eye cancer because of lack of awareness and treatment,” said VVS Laxman – the official brand ambassador of Whitathon 2019.
The Run will be flagged off from People’s Plaza, Necklace Road, Hyderabad, Telangana at 6 AM. The funds raised from the Whitathon Run will be utilized for treating poor children suffering from Retinoblastoma free of cost, and to provide resources for future research to explore new treatment options for this alarming disease.
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