P V Sindhu unveils the T-shirt for L V Prasad Eye Institute’s Whitathon Run

P V Sindhu Whitathon Run T-Shirt unveils event for L V Prasad Eye Institute at Hyderabad. Long-time supporter VVS Laxman shares a video message.

p-v-sindhu-unveils-the-tshirt-for l-v-prasad-eye-institute’s-whitathon-run
P V Sindhu

Whitathon is a cause-related run organized by LVPEI to raise awareness and funds for children with retinoblastoma (eye cancer)

Hyderabad, April 19, 2022: India’s pride – two-time Olympic medallist and world champion, Badminton Player Padma Bhushan Awardee P V Sindhu, has done the honors of unveiling the T-shirt for the WHITATHON RUN being organized by L V Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI). The event also had a message from VVS Laxman, Head Coach, National Cricket Academy, and a long-time supporter of Whitathon. Whitathon is a cause-related run organized by LVPEI to raise awareness and funds for children with retinoblastoma (eye cancer).

Whitathon Run, initiated in 2018, is L V Prasad Eye Institute’s annual cause-related event focusing on raising awareness and funds for early diagnosis and treatment of Retinoblastoma – a Life and Vision-threatening Eye Cancer in Children. One of the most common symptoms of Retinoblastoma is White Reflex (white glow) in a child’s eye. Through this run, LVPEI aims to raise awareness among the public that if they spot a ‘White Reflex’ in a child’s eye, it could be a sign of eye cancer that needs immediate medical intervention. The funds raised through this run, helps the Institute to provide free treatment to children from underprivileged families who have retinoblastoma.

Whitathon Run

The Fourth Edition of the WHITATHON RUN will be organized on 8 May 2022, Sunday, at People’s Plaza, Necklace Road, Hyderabad. Like every year, this year too Hyderabad Runners is supporting the run. There are three categories in the run – 3km (fun run), 5Km (timed run) and 10km (timed run). To register for the run, one has to click – https://www.ifinish.in/event_details/_Whitathon_Hyderabad_2022

P V Sindhu, who donated one lakh for the cause, speaking on the occasion said,

I thank LV Prasad Eye Institute for inviting me and very happy to be part of this noble cause of saving young children below three years old from the deadly disease of eye cancer. I was told that 50% of the kids lose their lives due to late detection and inadequate treatment. We need to understand that it is curable if it is detected at an early stage. I urge all the parents to understand that the main symptom of this eye cancer is the white reflex that is a white glow. Though this treatment is very expensive I am glad to know that LV Prasad Eye Institute is able to provide free treatment for children from underprivileged families. I hope you all will join me to save young Indian lives by participating at the 4th edition of the run which is on Sunday 8th May, 2022, at the People’s Plaza Necklace Road, Hyderabad. You participation in the run for the awareness of eye cancer will be saving many young children’s lives.

Dr Gullapalli N Rao – Founder and Chair Board of Trustees, L V Prasad Eye Institute; said,

one of our technicians in our Primary Vision centre in Palnadu area of Guntur district, identified a white spot in the eye of a three year old girl, Harini, he recognised it as a deadly form of eye cancer, referred her to our tertiary centre at Vijayawada and then here to Hyderabad. The diagnosis was retinoblastoma at an advanced stage and to save the life of the kid, the eye had to be removed. Father didn’t like the idea at all, he didn’t want to follow the advice, several people tried to convince him, our staff, the local leaders attempted. Finally Dr Swathi took it upon herself and convinced him, the eye was removed, several rounds of chemotherapy was administered. Everything was provided at no cost to the patient including treatment and transport for her and her family from their home. This is but one story of thousands of children in every nook and corner of India that suffer from this problem. Sindhu you conquered the world of badminton, what Dr Swathi and her team are doing is to conquer this deadly disease. If the message is spread widely and the diagnosis is done early, life can be saved, eye can be saved and even sight can be saved. We are making every effort through our Operation Eyesight Universal Institute for Eye Cancer, to take on this challenge and do as much as we can in service, in training more people from around in the care of this condition and engage in research for better understanding as well as for better treatment of this condition. We are very grateful to Operation Eyesight Universal, which funded this Institute initially and made it possible to take it on a bigger scale. Sindhu, your presence hopefully should spread the awareness and make the parents realise the importance to bring their children with eye defects at an early stage and help us diagnose and treat to save the life and sight of these tiny tots.

Dr Swathi Kaliki, Ocular Oncologist and Head – Operation Eyesight Universal Institute for Eye Cancer at L V Prasad Eye Institute said,

We extend our sincere thanks to PV Sindhu for being the Guest of Honour for the Whitathon T-shirt unveiling. We are sure with her support we will be able to make this event a great success and together ensure that – No child dies of eye cancer because of lack of awareness and treatment. Our sincere thanks also to VVS Laxman who has been supporting the run since its inception and helping us spread awareness about retinoblastoma. Ms Sindhu your presence here gives the voice and thrust to the message to reach millions and millions of people and also thank Mr VVS Laxman. The journey of Whitathon started in the year 2018, it started with a small idea and minute hope that we can do something for these children with eye cancer called retinoblastoma. It started with a belief, but many others joined forces to make it a movement. Whitathon is not just a simple run, it is an emotion, which is changing the lives of children, saving many eyes, vision and lives of kids with retinoblastoma. In 2018 we had two main objectives, one was to increase awareness about this eye cancer called retinoblastoma in the general public, because retinoblastoma is the most common eye cancer in children, unfortunately it affects very young children who are less than 3 years of age. It’s just unbelievable and unacceptable to parents when they come to know of the disease retinoblastoma their child suffers from. The second objective was to raise funds for treating underprivileged children with this eye cancer. Like with any cancer even this retinoblastoma treatment is very expensive, it’s a long drawn treatment which goes for months together, so it requires funds to continue to treat the children free of cost, who can’t otherwise afford the treatment. Our overarching goal is no child with retinoblastoma should die unnecessarily because of lack of awareness or due to lack of funds for the treatment.

The first edition of the run was organized in 2018 with 2000+ runners, the second edition in 2019 had 2500+ runners, and the third edition (virtual run) in 2021 had 350+ runners. With the funds raised, LVPEI has been able to provide free treatment to children with retinoblastoma, who hail from underprivileged backgrounds. The treatment for eye cancer is very expensive and happens over a longer duration.

Need to raise awareness:

  • Retinoblastoma (eye cancer) most commonly affects children below 3 years of age (90%)
  • 20 to 25% of cases of eye cancer worldwide in children are from India, and 50% of cases worldwide lose their lives due to late detection and inadequate treatment
  • Retinoblastoma is curable if the tumour is detected and treated early; thus saving the life, eye, and vision of the child
  • Over the past decade, LVPEI has treated more than 2000 patients with retinoblastoma eye cancer
  • Though it was possible to save the life of the child in 90% of the cases, the eyesight of the child could be saved in only 45% of the cases, the reason being late presentation of the case
  • Hence, it is important to raise awareness about the common symptoms of retinoblastoma in children and educate the public (specially young parents) on the importance of seeking timely medical care

Need to raise funds:

  • Retinoblastoma treatment is expensive and long in duration
  • Over 60 to 65% of patient families cannot afford the expense of the treatment
  • Thanks to the funds received from such cause-related events and donations, LVPEI is able to provide free treatment to children from underprivileged families

Dr Swathi Kaliki further added that it is time to make detailed eye check-ups a part of mandatory paediatric examinations. Parents and physicians should be educated about symptoms that could otherwise be easily dismissed as an infection. There is a need for increased awareness about this life-threatening disease among parents and the community at large.

Along with PV Sindhu, the T-shirt was unveiled by Mr Kashinath Bhoosnurmath, President & CEO, Operation Eyesight Universal; Dr Gullapalli N Rao – Founder and Chair Board of Trustees, L V Prasad Eye Institute; Dr Swathi Kaliki, Ocular Oncologist and Head – Operation Eyesight Universal Institute for Eye Cancer, L V Prasad Eye Institute; Dr Rajeev Reddy, Vice-Chair, L V Prasad Eye Institute; and Dr Merle Fernandes, Director, Kallam Anji Reddy Campus, L V Prasad Eye Institute.

We would like to acknowledge and extend our sincere thanks to our Diamond Sponsor: GTN Industries Ltd; our Gold Sponsors: Gebauer Medizintechnik GMBH, Techwave Consulting Pvt Ltd, National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) Ltd, Optimus Drugs Pvt Ltd; our Silver Sponsors: Joyalukkas Foundation, Vision Rx Lab Pvt Ltd and Nova Eyewear and Essilor India Pvt Ltd; and our Bronze Sponsor: Entod Pharmaceuticals Ltd. We also would like to thank our other supporters: Delta Lens Pvt Ltd, Biomedix Optotechnik & Devices Pvt Ltd, Acuitic Consulting Engineers, Asian Surgical Company and Asian Engineering Company, Alankar Traders and Om Tao Scientific Apparatus.

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