The gift of life – Organ Donation

Grief can do a lot of things to people: it can cause severe depression; it can make them behave irrationally; sometimes even violently; and in some cases can unearth latent creativity. Some of the best works of art and literature have been the result of unremitting grief of the creators. But where the family comes forward to donate the bodies of their loved ones, grief is at its positive best, because even in death, there is hope for other lives to be saved.

Last week the newspapers were filled with the story of a grieving family donating the organs of their only son who had died in a road accident. Why was this so touching and significant? The boy was just 21 and the only child at that. But for this family, the fact that their son’s organs could give life and meaning to to those of others, and because they believed that their son would have wanted it that way, helped make their minds up.

We often don’t stop to think of a problem because we feel that it may never happen to us. But none of us is above ill health and death. Accidents and emergencies happen and so do organ malfunction and failure, sometimes due to faulty health habits and at other times due to congenital issues.

One family I know of, lost a daughter a few years ago to a congenital degenerative disease. They have another daughter who is facing multiple organ failure today. Both her kidneys have failed and she is waiting for a donor – her name thousands deep on the list. Her only hope for a quick recovery is to find a relative who is ready to give her a kidney. The girl is in her early 20s. But her travails will not be over with receiving a kidney. She will then have to wait for a replacement liver and pancreas too. So far at least half a dozen relatives have come and gone and though one uncle’s medical parameters matched with hers and raised their hopes, he has subsequently changed his mind about giving his kidney. The family is now back to square one.

Advances in medical science have ameliorated much human suffering, by bringing in cutting edge technological and medical solutions, but there are still areas where all the development is useless. If you are wondering how this can be, take the case of organ transplants.  From the time Dr.Christian Barnard performed the first human heart transplant in 1967, today it is possible to transplant organs like liver, pancreas, in addition to cornea, heart valves and tissues and much more.

But of what use is all the advancement when donor organs are in short supply and thousands of people are dying for lack of them? Live donors can give only some organs like kidneys and lungs and parts of  liver and intestines. But fear for their health and medical incompatibility often make it difficult to procure organs for transplant. Added to it, is the legal procedures involved. (Link) In India every year there is a need of approximately 175000 kidneys, 50,000 hearts and 50,000 livers for transplantation. As against the need, only 5000 kidney transplants in 180 centres, 400 livers in 25 centres and 10-15 hearts in very few centres are done annually. (Link)

Commercial transplants where the organs are paid for, are banned by most countries, resulting in an illicit trade (Remember Coma by Robin Cook?)  in many developing countries including India. The poor are the target for the unscrupulous organ traders, where sometimes even medical professionals are actively involved. In order to stop this trade in human organs, some developing countries have completely banned organ transplants from anyone other than close relatives. While  Singapore has legalized commercial organ donations for the same reason, but the state has undertaken to provide follow up and free lifetime health care to the donors.

One way to solve the problem of the shortage of organs is cadaver organ donations from brain dead patients, (Read this link for more information on organ donations) and most brain dead casualties are from accidents. According to the 2010 statistics of the National Crime Records Bureau, every hour, 40 people under 25 die in road accidents around the globe. This figure has crossed a staggering 1,35,000 in India. Imagine how many lives can be saved if the relatives came forward to donate the organs of their loved ones! But already shattered and traumatised by the violent death, the family is unwilling to let the body be further mutilated and so decline donating the organs which can save other lives. At times, they even override any desire of the deceased to donate his or her organs and simply delay or fail to inform the hospital authorities.

Most religions including Hinduism encourage organ donations. The famous legend of Dadhichi maharishi — who gave his life to let the gods use his spine to fashion an indestructible weapon to vanquish the demons — is an example. Muslims however do not allow organs to be removed since Islam decrees that the body has to be whole while being buried.

Some of the organs that can be used from a deceased person are: Heart, Lungs, Liver, Kidneys, Eyes, Tissues, (including heart valves, tendons, cornea and skin), Intestines, Pancreas, Bones, Femoral and Saphenous veins.

Consider this: One organ donor can save up to eight lives. The same donor can also save or improve the lives of up to 50 people by donating tissues and eyes.

Isn’t it amazing what a person can do to help his fellow humans even after death?

Coming to one of the simplest forms of organ transplants – the cornea, it would come as a surprise that getting even these is not so easy. According to WHO,  there are 285 million visually impaired people worldwide, of which 39 million are blind and 246 have low vision. 90% of these live in developing countries. India with 15 million blind, has the ignominy of being in the lead. We have many organisations that facilitate eye donation and provide the donors with cards. Roping in film stars and celebrities like Aishwarya Rai Bachhan to spread awareness has also paid dividends in recent times.

Sri Lanka has one of the most successful eye donation campaigns, led by the Sri Lanka Eye Donation Society. It not only provides corneal transplants to its own citizens, but also exports them to other countries, Pakistan, being the main recipient, due to the Islamic laws in operation there. It has so far provided over  60,000 corneas and has an enrolment of 900,000 donors.

Though the Human Organ Act (THO) was passed in India in 1994, there is a lot that needs to be done as far as organ donations go:

  • Proper facilities to preserve the organs when they are donated. Many hospitals do not have the required facilities for doing this.
  • A tighter framework of laws should be in place to encourage people to come forward and donate not only their eyes but also their organs after their demise.
  • No preference for the rich and the powerful should be given, with the only criterion being who needs the organ most urgently.
  • A concerted awareness campaign to enable these measures to take effect should be undertaken on a war footing. This has borne fruits in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, which have the highest numbers of cadaver donors till date.

After all a body for a life, nay, many lives, is a wonderful thing, isn’t it?

Some organisations engaged in cadaver donation programmes: (Readers please add any others if you know of them)

Mohan Foundation (Hyderabad)

Apollo Institute of Transplants

DORSO (Delhi)

Gift your Organ.org

…and a blog dedicated to creating awareness about organ transplants:

http://organdonationindia.blogspot.in/

 Homepage image courtesy: bakerella.com

95 comments

  1. Did you know that India now has it own organ transplant network! its called OrganWiser.com. please check facebook.com/reachowiser and help us reach out to the organ recipient patients waiting for another chance to life! We are also on twitter! and we comply with the Transplantation of Human Organs act, India.

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    1. Thank you so much for the link and will check it out. We must all do what we can to help save lives however indirectly.

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  2. Dear Zephyr,
    A very thought provoking ,emotional and inspiring post with an important message and is the need of the hour.Of course the regional sentiments cannot be ruled out. With all that the time has come, to look beyond personal grief and do a little bit for the society. Let us be worth atleat after death. Many years before I read in a Tamil magazine about the brain death of a young man of 27 years and how his wife agreed for organ donation and immediately it was removed from the donor and the transplantation was also done simultaneously. It was a moving experience for all those present there including doctors.
    His organ donation could give life to 7 people. It was a very touching real life incident. That incidence made me to change my attitude and approach. I personally feel, after death all the internal organs should be donated and the body (just dummy external appearance) can be handed over to relatives to do their last rites as mark of respect to Hindu sentiments. One of my colleague teacher has donated her husband’s body and I remember,how this humanitarian service of her “ready to give”, facing the wrath of the relatives, family pressure from spouse’ side was discussed and shared with students,parents and staff and was the initiative of spreading awareness about organ donation.I am sure your post will make more and more people to think and pledge to donate their organs.
    “Let us pledge to give “ Gift of life, after our life has gone.” After all what use is the body after death”.

    Raajee.

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    1. Hey, Rajee, good to see you here 🙂 The site had some problem and so couldn’t reply earlier. We keep hearing about such stories, but to have a colleague who took such a bold step, it must surely have been a great feeling, though tinged with sadness. Tis is walking the talk and the students must have been inspired by her courageous and kind act, for sure. I humbly salute her! Our body is of no use to anyone if it is burnt or buried, so why not make use of it before consigning it to flames or the earth?

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  3. I read this post when it was published and then slunk away quietly. First to think and then to put a plan of action in place. One that would see me donating organs and then giving my body for research. All these days I only kept wanting to do this, but your post gave me the push and the impetus.

    What an fantastic post, Zephyr. Those links were really helpful.

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    1. 🙂 I am glad that this post made your mind up for you. I am not sure about donating the body for research, but donating organs is definitely a great thing. It is good to know that my research to get all those links have proved useful.

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  4. It’s really nice to see people come forward to donate the organs of their beloved souls who passed away. As much as the grief of the beloved one depresses people, the very thought of giving life to others is really really great. These days I see a lot of such things being done. Noble deed indeed. Glad that you shared the links, Thank you.

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    1. while it might be hard for the relatives to decide to do it, we can make it easier by being donors while alive and healthy. That’s why I researched the links “)

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  5. Thought provoking and very informative post.

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    1. Thank you Aativas. I am glad you found it informative.

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  6. […] is a post that made me feel very emotional – my dearest friend Zephyr wrote over at her blog – The gift of giving – Organ Donation. Please visit and […]

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  7. A much needed reminder. It is true how grief inspires and can can help you harness your creativity and inner strength to the utmost.
    I think of this too but somewhere deep down I know I need to act soon as well. If this is one way I can be immortal, I’ll happily accept it.

    Very very well written. Digging up your archives 🙂

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    1. Welcome here Kismitoffeebar. Sometimes we need to act lest we keep ruminating about something, right? I feel that while suffering makes us strong and hard, it is grief that can actually make us do something — and it is important that it is something positive. Hope you like what you find in the archives 🙂

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  8. WOW….A truly well written and well researched post… Makes one aware of the gift of life one can give even after one’s death..We just have to look past our grief and have the courage in our heart to do that.

    There are lot of myths surrounding organ donations and also it is very scary. But your article educates on many issues and the positive outcomes surrounding this topic.

    Thanks for the post

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    1. You are welcome Dimple. I didn’t want to do an emotional post and so did some homework and got out the links to make it more useful for the readers. I am glad you liked it. Myths and ‘well-wishers’ are the bane when it comes to such philanthropic acts.

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  9. The reluctance to donate organs by Hindus can be that they feel that unless the body is cremated with all the rituals, dead may not get ‘Moksha’. However , now the awareness is growing and people are realizing the importance of organ donation to be for a noble cause.

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    1. Good to see you here, SRA! Awareness indeed is the key and once the initial hesitation is overcome, it is just a matter of time before this becomes more common. Look at blood donation. Today it is accepted as a simple and noble thing too. Likewise it would be for organ donation too.

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  10. Loved the post Zephyr – and it’s a pleasure to visit your blog and be a part of your wonderful community too. 🙂

    I agree, organ donation isn’t something that’s caught up well enough in our country, which is indeed sad. However, I think a lot depends on the individual and how they take things. My Dad’s donated his eyes and plans to do more organs, and we too are thinking on the same lines, though haven’t yet got down to it. You are right, in some places it’s the society and other peer pressures that stops us from doing so, which again is something we have to learn to overcome.

    Thanks for sharing and creating more awareness about organ transplant, and I liked your well researched post and the wonderful links you shared, along with the stories of the various people. I just hope and pray more people would take note of this important point and change their way of thinking. 🙂

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    1. Lovely to have you here, Harleena. The best thing to do is to donate one’s organs when we are young so that our families are also aware of our wishes and would therefore comply with them. Because when they are not, it is left to the discretion of the immediate family and they can be emotionally swayed not to do it. I am glad that your father is thinking of becoming a donor and so are you all. Most of the misconceptions are done away with, when awareness is created. I am sure our educated classes at least would begin doing this.

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  11. Wonderful BM. An awesome post with very well researched stats. I came to know may facts today. What you said is right..when a person dies, his family is so devastated that they don’t have the heart to think about donating his body parts..if many people understood this, we can definitely save so many lives…our family donated the eyes of my grandma who died of heart disease. She told it many times when she knew she won’t live longer..my eyes are the only working part in my body..so don’t waste it..I still feel so proud of her…she is still alive in this world..I will also list my name soon. Sorry for the delay in reading this..wanted to read it in peace.

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    1. People like your grandma deserve all our salutes. And kudos to the family that complied with her wishes. We should all donate our organs — who knows they might all come useful and we can save so many lives. It is ok if you take time to read, but I am glad that you do 🙂

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  12. indeed a worthy cause!

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    1. Indeed, Deepak!

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  13. A wonderful subject during a time when so many people are thinking what they have to give as a gift. Many can give the gift of life. Maybe not in their lifetime, but when their time here ends. It truly is a show of love. May you have a very blessed season and a new year filled with love, happiness and health.

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    1. Thank you for the kind wishes. Wish you a very happy year ahead too. We indeed must begin thinking beyond flowers and books as gifts, especially since such a gift can save lives, right?

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  14. Very useful post on a nagging issue. I have seen families declining even to donate the cornea though the deceased has gone for it. The unnecessary taboo, and social pressure, coupled with some kind of guilt feelings, deter the families. As you have said, awareness is the way , to get more and more people come forward.

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    1. The already traumatised family is further put to guilt by the people around them when it is time to donate the organs. One has to make people aware of the need for doing it — who knows we might need it one day, god forbid!

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  15. Though I was very small at that time, I remember how that Aishwarya ad always fascinated me – Donate and help someone see the beauty of the world through your eyes. I think, acts of selflessness like these also help us to pass away happily carrying a good feeling in our hearts. Thank you for this beautiful post on a noble cause… it is one that truly inspires to gift lives long after we are gone.

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    1. It goes to show that campaigns using celebrities has the desired effect, doesn’t it? Another successful one was the do boond one for polio eradication using film stars. Organ donation can also use this ploy. Hope it inspired you to donate too!

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  16. What a pertinent post, Zephyr! These days medical science has made such phenomenal advances, and transplants of many organs are possible, and in many cases affordable too. Paucity of donated organs is a very real problem.

    Very useful links you’ve provided. Hope this post will inspire many to pledge their organs for donation.

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    1. Thank you Manju. This has been at the drafts stage for a long time and the news item made it come out as a full fledged post. And instead of writing a reflections type post, I thought an informative one made sense and so all the research and links 🙂 I do hope it will make people consider organ donation as a noble cause.

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  17. Very thoguht ful post..I have also told my daughter if anything of mine is used, please donate.

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    1. That is very good, Renu. We have also done the same 🙂

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  18. Good cause. Fully agree. My mom also wanted to do this. But could not as cancer patient’s organs can’t be deleted.

    But I am not sure if Hindu religion supports this though. At my mother’s ceremonies, the priest clearly mentioned that scriptures say if you donate organs, in your next birth you will be born without the organs donated.He said the complete body with all organs have to be offered to Agni as they originally belong to Agni.

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    1. I am sorry to hear about your mother, and yes, cancer patients’ organs are not taken for transplantation. But where scriptures are concerned, I don’t know if there are any specific instructions about not allowing organ donations. That is why I quoted Dadhichi rishi’s story. Even in Islam which is supposed to forbid organs to be removed, there are several opinions which say that there is no specific instructions to that effect. And I wonder how they cremated soldiers who had lost a limb or those who had suffered the loss of an eye or were maimed. It is best to ignore these since giving life to others is definitely more important than sacrificing our body for our own salvation, don’t you agree?

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  19. There is a lot of myth about pledging of organs, and we are quite uninformed about it. It is time that we pledge all that we can to give life to those who are suffering. And all this with absolutely no harm to our ownselves. A meaningful life can go beyond one’s Death!”

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    1. There are many myths and superstitions surrounding organ donations, but if we are firm, our families and kin will carry our wishes out. And it is indeed a lovely feeling that even our dead body can give life to someone!

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  20. Quite a poignant topic here and very well-researched. I must admit that when I was reading this, it was a bit scary. I have read many accounts of organ donation but as you’ve mentioned, I never gave it serious thought. Inspite of all my thoughts, I have pledged my organs long ago. I just hope my family does the needful because a time of grief numbs all the other senses, esp, common sense and a presence of mind. What more does one need – continue living even after one has transitioned into another life.

    Thanks for this post, dear Zephyr.

    Joy always,
    Susan

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    1. So many of my readers are organ donors! It makes me feel so blessed to know you all 🙂 The family usually complies if they know how strongly we feel about it. As you have pointed out, it is an ultimate ego boost — to live long after one’s lifetime!

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  21. Beautiful post !
    My maternal uncle and aunt both wished that their bodies be donated to AIIMS after their death and it was done. It seemed very unusual then, but I see that many are open to making this ultimate generous gift ! We too should pledge to donate our organs and save many lives thus.

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    1. That must have been so much ahead of the times, isn’t it? I am glad that the family complied with their wishes. As Bikram has pointed out, of what use is the body to us after death, but if it can give life to others, why shouldn’t we pledge it?

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  22. I’m glad you brought up this subject. Hoping many of us will take inspiration and pledge to donate our organs. If even in my death I can give hope to someone, my soul will feel blessed.

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    1. I would be happy if this post helps create awareness among my readers who are not donors already. It is the best form of charity, isn’t it?

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  23. This is on my mind from quite a long time and your post reminded me to think about this more seriously. Thanks for that.

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    1. I am glad that this post has acted as a spur for you to go ahead and do it. 🙂

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  24. I want to donate my body after death and why not? But again the big question is, ‘Will my family comply to my wishes?’

    The facts you shared here has made me more determined. And I truly respect what the family you mentioned in the opening paragraph has done, such incidents are very rare in India.

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    1. Usually families go with the wishes of their loved ones in this respect. And all we can do is to make sure that they will by making it clear that it means a lot for you to do it. Cases like this are not rare, Saru. We don’t get to hear of them as much as we should be, instead of reading about our politicians and their scams.

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  25. My grandparents had stated in their will that their eyes be donated at the time of their death. Grandma went first, and grandpa made sure her eyes were donated. Then 7 years later it was grandpa’s time. My mother and I were around to ensure that his eyes were donated.

    It is difficult to think straight and remember these things at the time of death of someone close, but only later on do we realise its significance. It really provides a soothing effect.

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    1. We have to be practical at times of grief in order to do this. And it is commendable that you did it for both your grandparents, knowing especially how close you were to your grandfather. Perhaps that was another reason why it meant so much to you to carry out his wishes, right?

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      1. True. It was like seeing it through his eyes: what would he have liked? If he were here, what would he have done? And that made the decision making easier….

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        1. I understand the feelings and also appreciate how you went ahead with his wishes.

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  26. Informative and thought provoking post Zephyr. Yes your information is exhaustive and touching. We have to build an awareness movement where the Govt (srilanka has enacted a law where eye donation is taken care) has a major role to play by enacting some law (plugging the loopholes) so that the mass is reached. Even we as an individual can contribute to some extent. I have been doing it as far eye donation is concerned. Since I hv not come across a situation (organ donation) as mentioned by you (God forbid it shd not happen) if i get a chance i will make a sincere attempt. It’s a very dicey situation when you approach the family asking them to donate at the time of grief even if it is a natural death.My success rate is nearly 40% not a bad figure. The only way you can is one should be prepared for reprimand also from the grieving family. You know Zephyr when the cornea is removed from the donor the transplantation is done to two recipients thus two people can see this world. My Amma is still seeing us thro some unknown recipients. Isn’t beautiful !!!!!!! Let’s give a try as individual we will surely make a difference in somebody’s life. Wishful thinking !!!! Our lawmakers give some time to this issue instead of dirty politicking ha ha ha.

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    1. I remember you telling me about your mother’s wishes being fulfilled and your efforts to get people to donate their eyes too. But organ and eye donation should be done when we are still hale and hearty so that the wishes can be carried out by the relatives, as in your mother’s case. I know you must be feeling great about having your mother see the world through someone else’s eyes, which she gave sight to. My father’s eyes were also donated. But we postpone these things probably content in our immortality! So when there is an emergency, things are not in place and everyone is flustered. So maybe you should start telling your customers when they come to you to open a bank account, about this and ask them to enrol for organ donation even as you fill out their bank forms 😀

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  27. Thank you for providing all the numbers and statistics. I feel, many people who are even willing to donate procrastinate to later! They are probably waiting for someone to come home with a form and do it for them.

    My maternal grand parents, who passed away within 14 days of each other, had donated their eyes. My grand father left first and for some reason we were unable to fulfill his wish to donate. He died of an organ failure and we were too late to inform to the doctor to come take his eyes away. After two weeks, when my grand mother passed away, we were all shell shocked since it was completely uncalled for. We all had lunch together and she quietly left after having the afternoon tea. We were mentally and emotionally paralyzed. But we managed to inform the doctor in time who removed her eyes within a few hours of her death and she was cremated the same day.

    It was a moving experience for all of us. We were later told about the girl who got my grand mother’s eyes. We had the chance of meeting her too. But we passed. We were just too content to know that someone’s world had just changed for the good. . and that was too overwhelming in that time of grief, probably the only consolation too.

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    1. I have heard about the passing away of your grandparents in quick succession but not about the eye donation. It speaks of the presence of mind of the close relatives to inform the concerned authorities to do the needful when grappling with the loss and accompanying trauma. It is a wonderful feeling to know that our loved ones have given life to many others. I can understand your passing up the opportunity to meet the girl who had got the eyes of your grandmother. Sometimes the knowledge that someone has benefited itself is enough to make us feel good. As for people waiting for someone with the necessary forms, they would still not do it, if their attitude is not to bother with the donation 😦

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  28. Heard this news some days back on the radio. So proud of the parents who had so much courage to think about others even during the toughest times of their life.
    The statistics in this post were surprising. While we whine for our own small problems everyday, people are suffering each day 😦

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    1. The stats indeed are mindboggling. Imagine the number of road casualties and blind in our country! Such families and relatives do exist Akanksha. We only don’t hear of the good stories as much as we do of the bad ones.

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  29. Yes it is a noble cause.. I had signed up for this ages ago and I hope when I go my family respect my wishes and do the needful…

    As I won’t be there to make sure of it

    Let’s hope More and more people understand the need and come forward.. I mean what are they going to do with the body once dead..

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    1. Sorry Bikram, somehow missed replying a few comments and yours was one of them. You have asked the perfect question — what are we going to do with the body when we are dead? Our loved ones usually don’t go against our wishes since it is for a good cause. I am sure, yours will respect yours too.

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  30. privytrifles · · Reply

    A very thought provoking post… I have promised myself to do this some 5 years back when I had seen someone very close to me die because of not getting a donor in time.

    People around me are not to happy with this idea but then I guess its ok. As I know there is nothing wrong in it. I have already donated my eyes and I also carry that card with me all the while, just incase I meet any freak accident any one can see that and save my eyes at least.

    This is the least that I can do as a human being for I am not blessed with loads of money to ensure such things don’t happen to any one at all.

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    1. Sorry PT, I had missed replying your comment while I was replying. You are right, when something is not wrong and can only help others, we should go ahead and do it. Our loved ones eventually come around and accept it. I look at it as a form of recycling — don’t we do that to so many things in our lives? So why not to the most precious commodity of all, our bodies?

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  31. I feel so emotional, in a happy way, to read this post, Zephyr. In my next post, I am definitely going to request my community to come and read this.

    In our apartment complex, we have a family, a wonderful family where the lady of the house needed a kidney donor. Her brother readily came forward to help. They were not well off (children in school and middle class). All the residents came forward and donated what they could, and there was enough for her medical expenses and continued care. Each week, one house would have a “Vishnu sahasranamam” recital to pray for her surgery to be a success and that everything would go well. People came forward to commute to and from the hospital to take care of whatever the family needed. It is a miracle, because her case had so many complications – there was dialysis involved. Today, she’s fine. Her daughter is married into a nice family and everything is fine.

    Being ready to “give” can be so transformational for so many lives.

    My Mother always wished to donate her body to a medical college – and even though her death was unexpected, I reached out for help and somehow, everything fit perfectly in place – that particular day, Feb 8, 2010, we did not face a single harsh word anywhere – the head of the department of anatomy at St.Johns skipped lunch and waited for us at the gate to receive us at 3 pm. And oh, so courteous. Our extended family was not so thrilled at this decision, but we were extremely proud that my Ma was just as generous in death as she was, during her life.

    Thank you for this pillar post, Zephyr. Love you.

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    1. Those are lovely stories of courage and sacrifice and generosity, Vidya. I am so happy to hear about your donating your mother’s body to help those in need. It must have been hard not only just giving her away but also facing the wrath of the relatives. As long as we do something for the good of others, the act can’t ever be wrong. Your neighbours are indeed wonderful to have done all that for the family. When siblings donate their organs, the complications are reduced as well as the rejection rate goes down. But family pressure is great from the spouse’ side sometimes not to donate. Thanks for tweeting this story. Do share it on FB too, Vidya. You have so many followers and it would reach out those many if you do.

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      1. Of course. Done. 🙂

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        1. Thanks dear 🙂

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  32. Very well researched post, Zephyr!

    A relative of mine who was married had to have his kidney replaced. His brother donated him one. The person is fine now, even working. But the brother who donated didn’t get married, refused to get married with one kidney. This was done in Chennai. They took just a few days to finish the formalities. I know them. Why Irfan’s friend took so much time, I wonder, when the person who donated is a relative.

    I have already told my sons and husband to donate all the organs. Though they are laughing now, they will do it.

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    1. Sandhya, the procedures are very complicated unless the person donating is a close blood relative like a sibling or children/parents or even spouse. For the others it is the same process of getting clearance and no objection from donor’s family and certificate from a hospital committee and so on. One of my cousins donated her kidney to her brother and he has also not married. They both are doing fine for the last nearly quarter century. Everyone of us should donate our organs.

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  33. The third time am trying to put a comment 🙂

    Thank you for the wealth of information..have registered and got myself a donor card.

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    1. I am so sorry about the multiple attempts to post the comment. It is great that you are a donor. Please share the name of the organisation you have donated to, so that I may add it to the list.

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  34. After death the only gift one can give..

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    1. Yes Ruchi. In Tamil we say that an elephant is worth 1000 gold coins while alive and even after death. While all humans might not be worth so much when alive, we certainly can be, after death 🙂

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  35. Wonderful!! And thanks for the links.

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    1. You are most welcome Bhagya 🙂

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  36. So all we do is register ourselves here? So when death comes the family members need to notify them or something like that? Thanks a ton and it really helps to do a little bit for the society.

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    1. Yes, Sumana. One needs to be registered or at least let the family know of one’s wish to become an organ donor after death. If we can do this much, it would be wonderful, wouldn’t it?

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  37. I remember reading the news sometime back and discussed this with my wife. The news touched be immensely. I am not sure though that if a person has to be registered somewhere for this.

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    1. Yes Amit, one has to register oneself as a donor with any organisation working in this field. I have given the names of a few and invite my readers to share some more if they know of them. DORSO is a Delhi based one and you could contact them, or even Apollo. It is just like eye donation and a donor card is given on registering.

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  38. I have already pledged my organs. I hope when the time comes, we can look beyond personal grief and can help someone else through our own act of compassion. A nicely researched post with an important message.

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    1. That is wonderful Rachna. Please share the link to the organisation to which you have pledged the organs, so that I can add it to the list on the post if it is not one of those.

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        1. thanks Rachna> Added it. 🙂

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  39. I am not sure why/how living people should be allowed to donate an organ (like kidney), in a country like ours where corruption and malpractices are rampant. That will only result in poor people being exploited further and encourage illegal trading of organs. It also leads to emotional coercion by hapless relatives.

    On the contrary, we can look at making it compulsory brain dead people to donate their organs (in the hospital, before taking their bodies off) and only exempt certain cases where their relatives insist otherwise.

    Destination Infinity

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    1. The post focuses more on cadaver organ donation and the mention to live donors is only to highlight the difficulty and red tape involved in the process. It is not possible to ask people to make live organ donations since it is fraught with a lot of health and legal issues, which is why like the family I talked about and the one Irfan has talked about are facing the crunch. The compulsory harvesting of organs from brain dead persons is covered in the ‘opt-out’ clause by many countries including the UK and Singapore, whereby consent is assumed for donating the organs unless the relatives are able to produce evidence to the contrary and refuse permission. This again is fraught with the danger of misuse by the hospital staff. I am providing the link to the opting out clause and its implications. Do go through that. http://en.wikipedia.org/?title=Organ_donation

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  40. “The famous legend of Dadhichi maharishi — who gave his life to let the gods use his spine to fashion an indestructible weapon to vanquish the demons — is an example.” Love this! You taught me something Zephyr 🙂
    This is a very thought-provoking post. It will be a while before I can process my own deeper feelings about this and comment. Thank you Zephyr. You make a difference to our lives!

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    1. Thanks Maya. I am so sorry I had missed providing the link to Dadhichi rishi, which I did after reading your comment. We can all individually get at least a couple of people to become donors and that would make a small difference too. There are good hospitals that are already making efforts towards this end. But what made me sit up were the road casualty statistics in India. How wonderful it would be if the organs of these unfortunate lives could be used to give life to many who are in need?

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  41. This is such a comprehensive inspirational post. I remember reading about the young boy whose parents decided to donate his organs. I guess, most people are wary of organ donation owing to their religious beliefs. What we need is more awareness. This post is of utmost relevance and needs to be shared and passed on so that several lives can be saved.

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    1. I made particular mention of Hinduism only because it does not say anything against it. My father, who was highly religious donated his eyes and they were removed with great sensitivity by the concerned personnel, without intruding on the mourners in any way. I think it is more lack of awareness and the procedures. Plus credible organisations that are undertaking this. Which is why I provided some links. I am trying to find more.

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  42. Very wonderfully written…Honestly, while I knew about organ donations I wasnt very aware of organisations who work for it…thanks for the links…Now I get to learn more

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    1. Sorry, RM, I had missed this comment when I was replying the comments. I am glad that you found valid information that would make you a potential donor too!

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  43. i remember a case where one of my friend’s sister needed a kidney and after lot of hurdles they found one of the relatives who was ready to donate his and all the medical tests were also supporting his case, though this all procees took about six months then we came to know that the concerned people have to take a clearence from the legal body to donate his kidney and even that clearance process took some time…….when all the formalities were about to complete, unfortunately that girl could not survive anymore…what i mean to say is that even if someone have a doner then these legal clearance and all formalities take so much time here in our country that sometimes all goes in vain…so there must be a system so that these things can become little simple and may not take that undue time……

    btw, a well narrated write up on an important issue, giving all the information…thanks for sharing.

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    1. It is the same case with the family I have talked about too. That girl is so young and like her there are so many lakhs of patients waiting for a gift of life. I was astonished at the road accident statistics. If even 10% of the bodies are donated, just imagine the numbers and the difference they will make to the organ transplant programme. I would have loved to give more resource links and would update the post when I find them. Thanks for finding it useful, Irfan.

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  44. A very well researched post Zephyr ! These things come from within and in a society which has so many shackles, the realization of its importance will take a long time to percolate for benifits to be seen. No point in comparing with Singapore or even Srilanka which have miniscule population and problems compared to our country.

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    1. Rahul, we can’t not do things because we are a populous country. With the law in place for cadaver organ transplants and many premier hospitals and NGOs active in the field, things will only get better. Just as with eyes, organ donation will also pick up momentum with awareness campaigns. However, it all depends on the will to do it and also the importance this issue gets. First of all, we need a strict system of giving the organs only to the most deserving cases and not someone who has the money to buy or influence the donation.

      As for comparing with Singapore and Sri Lanka, state governments can play an important role and then the numbers won’t be so daunting would they? I have heard that the Mohan Foundation does a lot of trauma counselling and therefore very effective. There are blogs dedicated to creating awareness of the issue.

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  45. It is a well written post and you have covered all the salient points.
    The one way to augment the harvest of organs from the dead or brain dead would be for the government to donate some attractive amount different for different parts to the donor family and the use of it in a fair manner based on urgency with no favouritism. This will encourage many poor families who otherwise cremate or bury to avail of the donations.Care should be taken however that cases of unnatural deaths in doubtful circumstances and suicides do not qualify for this scheme to avoid misuse.

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    1. There are so many legal issues that need to be sorted out before this can become a viable reality. But the work by Mohan Foundation in Chennai and Hyderabad is commendable with the two states topping in organ donation. Paying for the organs would make it again a dicey proposition with illegal trade in organs a distinct possibility. However with more people pledging their organs, things will improve. Religious taboos are all in the mind and since the younger generation is more rational in its thinking I am sure that at least they can come forward to do it. Older ones can donate at least their eyes since organs might not be functional for transplantation.

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