On Donating Organs

I first came to know of Hitendran when somebody talked about him. ‘I will find it very difficult to donate my body for medical purpose’ she said, ‘the idea itself makes me uncomfortable.’

You may have read about Hitendran. In case you have not, I am providing a link. To put the story in a nutshell, Hitendran a 15 year old boy, son of a doctor parents died in an accident. His parents donated his body, so his organs have been transplanted to others. For example, Abhirami, a young girl has received his heart.

Eighty persons have declared that they would donate their organs and such is the impact of the Hitendran story. His parents must be congratulated. What the relatives go through when they donate organs cannot be told, it needs to be experienced.

Nevertheless, I feel like narrating my experience. My father, a doctor, died of heart attack while awaiting surgery in a hospital in 1985. He had signed a form at Rotary Club of Kalyan [of which he was a past President] for eye donation. My mother too had signed a similar form.

After the surgery my father had a heart attack and was ‘technically alive’ or brain dead. He was ‘kept alive’ by a battery of machines at the hospital. After two days of waiting my mother gathered courage to tell the hospital doctors to disconnect the machines and arrange for eye donation. The doctors did not have to disconnect machines as he died just about that time. They, however, promptly acted to fulfill his wish of eye donation. I am told that the cornea is to be removed within two hours [unless medical science has made some progress now which allows later recovery].

Seeing dead body of father was painful enough, but I was very afraid of looking at his eyes. The Doctors had sealed the eyelids and the face did not look ‘mutilated’ which is what the relatives would not like to see.

That father was dead was a painful fact, and that my mother took initiative in fulfilling his last wish and promise as a Rotarian, and that it was a laudable thing to do got registered in my head several weeks later. A strange feeling comes when you donate the organ of your loved one. It just cannot be explained or articulated. And if anyone thinks that it gives a joy or a sense of satisfaction then let me tell him that such a thing is not true. The pain of losing a dear one overtakes everything. I may say you donate an organ because you think it is the right thing to do.

Actually you do not donate; your relatives donate your organs! But it is amusing that we are so possessive of our body that we hesitate to fill up the form to donate organs even after our death.

It is for this reason that Hitendran’s father and mother need to be congratulated. Overcoming grief to do something so noble requires a magnanimous heart. And magnanimity of heart cannot be donated!

PS: The Rotary Club of Kalyan gave posthumous recognition by presenting a memento which is a small bust of Swatantrya Veer Savarkar made by the highly acclaimed sculptor Rajabhau Sathe who incidentally was my father’s friend.