Among the people responsible for saving lives through organ transplant surgeries, the families of the donors have rarely been recognised for the difficult decision they have to make at a moment of grief. Marking the cause, the Multi Organ Harvesting Aid Network Foundation honoured a total of 26 families who were presented with mementos by K. Rosaiah, the Governor of Tamil Nadu at Raj Bhawan on Thursday.
R. Velliammal, the mother of a 14 year-old son, Ramakumar, was sitting among 25 other similar families who had come together in their grief of having a lost a loved one and yet having given life to several others. Her son had died in a road accident when his scooty collided with a wall. Velliammal had agreed to donate her son’s liver, kidneys, heart, heart valves and cornea giving a new lease of life to seven other people. “When he was alive, my son was always interested in donating blood and had wanted to donate more. He always had a giving nature. So we decided to donate his organs so that people can live through his organs.”
Since October 2008 till June 2012, over 1500 organs, including heart, liver, kidneys, lungs, cornea and heart valves, have been transplanted in the State. “Though Andhra Pradesh started it, Tamil Nadu is the leading state in organ transplantation in the country,” said V. Kanagasabai, the Dean of Rajiv Gandhi General Government Hospital.
Referring to transplant as the greatest achievement of science, Sunil Shroff, the Managing Trustee of MOHAN foundation said, “Unlike live people, cadavers can donate multiple organs saving many live. Organ donation after brain death leaves a legacy behind. It shows how death can bring life and how a terrible loss can turn into the greatest gift of all.” He added that the transplant coordinators and trained councillors were also equally worthy of credit since their role does not end with the surgery. With the help of effective networking, they continue to help rehabilitate the families of the donors.
Commending the giving nature of the people of Tamil Nadu, George Kurien, a trustee of MOHAN foundation said, “Tamil Nadu has a conversion rate of 80% as compared to a maximum of 40-45% for other states. The fact that people of Tamil Nadu give so much is remarkable.”
Along with the family members, several neurosurgeons, anaesthesiologists among other medical specialists from Apollo Hospital, Global Hospital and GH were also presented with mementoes for their contribution in declaring the donors as brain dead, a crucial step in the process of transplantation.