A bond beyond life and death

A bond beyond  life and death

You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you,” this famous John Bunyan quote aptly defines the organ donors who live beyond their death. Here are some heart wrenching tales from such donors... 

Life had ended abruptly for three-year-old Tamanna Mariam and her parents, who died in an accident in Bangalore in January 2009.

But in her death, Mariam became the youngest donor, giving a new life to three individuals who were in dire need of transplantation.

Timely co-ordination by the Zonal Coordination Committee of Karnataka for Transplantation (ZCCK) helped Tamanna’s liver and heart to be transplanted to a person of her age. Her kidneys went to an adult recipient.

Tamanna’s uncle, Prof Abby Mathew fondly remembers Tamanna as a mischievous girl. “It was a very difficult moment for the family as the child’s mother was dead and her father was in the ICU due to multiple fractures after the accident.  

I took her father’s consent and the donation was carried out.  We are happy that Tamanna is still living through somebody,” he says.

If Tamanna’s organ donation was involuntary, that of 66-year-old Kiranraj Jain was a voluntary one, something that he had desired and planned. His son-in-law, Anil Kumar Nahar recalls how Jain dictated a will about donating his organs just a fortnight before he was declared brain-dead following haemorrhage.

According to Nahar, Jain had insisted that the letter be typed on a letterhead and be signed by him.  

“He actually asked for the letter on the hospital bed. However, only his thumb impression was taken in the end as he was not in a position to sign,” remembers Kumar.

Following his death in August 2009, Jain’s family contacted ZCCK and with their support, his eyes, liver and kidneys were donated. Incidentally, Kiranraj Jain became the first member from a Jain community in Karnataka to donate organs after death.

At the prayer meeting held after Jain’s death, over 1,000 people had gathered to pay their respects to the departed soul.  To create awareness, ZCCK also organised an organ donation pledge camp during this meet.

Several families took a pledge on the spot to donate their organs. Nahar says that his father-in-law’s noble gesture inspired many among the Jain community to follow suit. At religious functions, the community leaders have been preaching the importance of organ donation.

In another interesting case, a family in East Bangalore gave their consent to donate their daughter’s organs after she was declared brain-dead following a suicide attempt.

Already shocked and grieving after their daughter’s extreme step, the family members were counseled for a possible organ donation. The girl’s father recalls that he could not do much to save his daughter. The only way was to see that her life did not go waste.  Her kidney, liver and heart valves were donated following the consent. 

Recipients

If donors have gifted their organs, it is a different ball game for the recipients. Though the quality of life becomes far better than their pre-transplant condition, it often gets difficult to manage a healthy life without contracting any infection. 

It has been 23 years since Vasu Sandur underwent a renal transplant after his mother donated him her kidney. Vasu is now 51 years old and works as an accountant in a private firm. He is also the president of the Kidney Patients Welfare Association.

According to him, the biggest challenge is to maintain good health despite the odds of getting infected very easily. “It all depends on one’s immune system. If the body accepts the kidney and gets adjusted, the expenditure would be minimal on the lifelong medication. But there are cases where patients with the transplanted organs have to spend more than Rs 50,000 a month only on medicines,” he explains. 

There are about 200 patients with transplanted organs in his association. They meet once a month. “We try to mobilise funds and help those patients who need medication. But, it has become a challenge even for the association now.  Despite seeking help from the government many times by meeting ministers and officials, the government has turned a blind eye to our requests,” he laments.

Vasu Sandur is also an athlete, having represented India in the World Transplant Olympics and brought laurels for the country. He now wants people to come forward and donate funds to his association.

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