Pune, 26th January 2024: On the eve of the 75th Republic Day of India, the Union government announced the selection of 95-year-old Dr. Manohar Dole, the founder of a charitable eye hospital in Narayangaon, Pune district, Maharashtra, for the prestigious Padma Shri award.
For the past 42 years, Dole, an Ayurveda doctor with no formal surgical training, has been providing free eye care to tens of thousands of tribals and economically disadvantaged individuals. Despite lacking expertise in ophthalmology, Dole’s dedication has created a lasting impact on the lives of those suffering from cataracts, eye conditions, and vision impairments.
His journey began in 1962 when he completed his Ayurveda studies in Pune. Moving to the underserved village of Narayangaon, he established a small clinic on the Nashik-Pune highway to address the healthcare needs of the socio-economically weaker sections of society. Lacking proper infrastructure, he faced numerous challenges but remained committed to his cause.
Observing that many patients came from tribal areas in Nashik, Thane, Ahmednagar, and Pune, Dole identified a common problem among the elderly: vision loss due to cataracts. Despite his limitations in ophthalmology, he referred patients to Pune doctors, recognizing the financial constraints many faced in seeking specialized care.
In 1982, a personal tragedy inspired Dole to take his commitment further. After the loss of his best friend Mohan Thuse, a RSS social worker in Junnar, Dole decided to establish a hospital to treat eye patients. Overcoming financial constraints, he persuaded eye specialists from Pune to volunteer their services for free.
Initially facing skepticism from patients who doubted the sincerity of the initiative, Dole slowly gained trust. The Mohan Thuse Eye Hospital, operating under the Dr. Manohar Dole Medical Foundation, started with 20 beds and one operation theatre. As word spread, donations from temple trusts, individuals, and corporations began pouring in.
Since its inception in 1982, the hospital has treated about two lakh patients for free. The hospital now treats 400 patients monthly, providing free transportation, meals, and treatment sponsored by donations.