Greatest gift, say spiritual gurus as doctors allay fears
Mumbai: Spiritual leaders, doctors and representatives of NGOs came together at a seminar held in Kokilaben Ambani Hospital, Andheri, on August 8 to bust myths and promote organ donation.
The seminar, organized by TOI in the run-up to the Organ Donation Day on August 13, saw spiritual leaders stating that organ donations were the greatest gifts ever while doctors exhorted people not to fear them.
Father Stephen Fernandes, a teacher of moral theology from St Pius X College, Goregaon, said organ donation is noble. “It is a testament of love to one’s neighbours,” he said, adding that Popes had often spoken in its favour.
Over a million Indians suffer with end-stage organ failure but only around 3,500 transplants are performed annually. At least 15 patients die every day waiting for organs. Every 10 minutes a new name is added to this waiting list.
Mumbai resident Bhavesha Parikh has been waiting for a kidney donation for two years. “One has to look happy from the outside because one has family, but one spends five hours every other day undergoing dialysis. This leaves one unable to care for their children or other family members,” Parekh said.
Brahmakumari Sister Shivani wondered what was blocking Indians from donating organs. “We are taught that karma done today will benefit our family for a long time,” she said. So, it shouldn’t take us long to decide to do ‘daan’ of our body’s organs.”
Irfan Engineer of the Institute for Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution said said it was a shame there are only a few thousand donations in India annually. “Organ donation is a way to become immortal,” he said. His entire family has pledged their organs.
Anil Rajvanshi, an academic from the Nimbkar Agricultural Research Institute, said “bodies don’t have any religion”. “All organs have a map on the brain. When brain death occurs, this map gets cleaned out,’’ he said, adding, “Why should there be any fear then?” As a model of this selfless donation, the Kanwar family was present at the meeting to speak about donor Rohini Kanwar. Her husband Pankaj donated Rohini’s organs after she was declared brain dead a few years ago. “It was her nature to help others. In her passing too, she ensured that five patients could lead healthier lives,’’ Pankaj said.
Kokilaben Ambani Hospital’s liver transplant specialist Dr Vinay Kumaran said only a small portion of patients suffering from organ failure manage to undergo a transplant in India. “As a surgeon, there is nothing more satisfying than seeing an organ failure patient getting back to normal with a transplanted organ. Within a month, the recipient looks healthier than many others,’’ he said. Urologist Dr Sanjay Pandey said there is so much reservation against organ donation that even relatives refuse to donate. Sameer Dua of NGO Gift Your Organ Foundation said, “There is a need to realize that there is no point taking organs with you after death, you don’t them.”