“What better way to leave one’s footprints behind than to donate one’s organs.” This was not a plea coming from a group of doctors encouraging people to pledge their organs for ailing patients, but a group of philanthropic senior citizens who voluntarily came forth to pledge their organs at a public meeting held in Goregaon on Sunday.
A Parsi teacher from Nowroze Baug in Lalbaug, Katy Gundevia is one such example. The 75-year-old was moved when she heard the plight of an auto driver suffering from kidney failure and made up her mind. “I shifted from Delhi to Mumbai so that my body could be offered to the Tower of Silence after my death, as per our customs. But I’ve now realised that donating my organs would be more productive,” says the septuagenarian who has offered to donate her kidney to the autodriver. She has also pledged her eyes at the national eye bank.
A mother of two, Gundevia takes pleasure in reaching out to others and currently works with the Helen Keller Institute for Blind. “It is sad that so little is known about organ donation,” says Gundevia, who is yet to fully understand the medical formalities of an unrelated (not father, mother, siblings, children or spouse as laid down under the Transplantation of Human Organs Act (HOTA), 1994) donor and the mandatory permission required from the state’s authorisation committee. HOTA allows unrelated donors only on the basis of altruism.
Another willing donor, Goregaon resident Shyam Desai (75) sees organ donation as a means of communal harmony. On Sunday, he pledged that he would donate his eyes for another to see the world — his only condition that he wanted them to be donated to a person from another community and thus bring two religions together.
“I have undergone five angiographies and underwent an angioplasty in November. That’s when realisation struck that I was nearing my end and should be of some use to others even in death,” said Desai, who has asked his only son to fill out all the necessary formalities to ensure that his functional organs are donated after death.
Health experts agree that the attitude towards transplants — say, from a brain-dead person to patients with kidney failure — is gradually changing. But there is a glaring gap between the number of persons awaiting a transplant and the donations.