Become the source of life

The world comes apart when one realises that their dear one’s have encountered an organ failure. Not because there isn't a chance of survival or insufficient facilities to save the life in question but because of the sheer difficulty of finding a donor. Every possible effort may be made but at other times nothing apart from prayers works simply because there are not enough offers of organ donation in India to meet the demand of transplants.

At a recent organ donation event at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Brinda Karat’s names were announced along with 500 other donors. Perhaps the news inspired a few, for if known individuals take a stand, the cause does get highlighted.
“In 1995, the laws were altered to allow organ transplant after six hours of brain death,” says Dr Samiran Nandi, Chairperson of Organ Transplant at Sir Ganga Ram, considered among the pioneers of organ transplant in India. Implementation of the changed law has tried to stop organ trade and increase timely recognition of brain death. Atleast now, “The poor are not openly selling their organs for money. Now, people also need to realise that after their death, the organs are needed here and not in heaven!” he adds.

Adding to the woes is the fact that myths surrounding organ donation also prove to be major deterrents for prospective donors. Consider some of them: ‘If I agree to donate my organs, the hospital staff won’t work as hard to save my life’ or ‘organ donation is against my religion’ and worse ‘I’m too old or too young to donate’! Experts are dimissive of these, citing unawareness.

Religion too becomes a barrier for people to think beyond. But surprisingly, “Almost all religions are in favour of organ transplant. When we had meetings on the matter in the 1990s, many religious leaders supported the cause,” says Dr Samiran but adds that even years after Delhi records one of the least numbers when it comes to donors. “While Tamil  Nadu reported around 100 deceased donors in 2011, Delhi had only four-five.”

“The very fact that India doesn’t have a very high organ donation is due to low level of awareness,” says Dr Samir Parikh, Director, Psychiatrist at Fortis, Gurgaon. He emphasises the fact that culturally, Indians are not comfortable with the idea of organ donation. “What one sees happening in the society and admires others for, is what the individual follows himself/herself. But when we talk about organ donation, it is not merely about what we pass on hereafter. Instead, how we are giving life to someone by acting as a catalyst.”

However, there are instances where families have taken an initiative and gone beyond grief. Recently, a couple lost their 21-year old son in an accident and asked doctors to harvest his organs - a decision that will help 34 lives! Anmol, a BCA student had suffered irreversible brain damage in a road accident.

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