I was first introduced to the concept of organ donation during the first year of medical school. Our anatomy professor ardently spoke about the growing need for organ donation, and the concomitant shortage of donors. Since that very day, the idea took root in my mind that this approach must be widely propagated and implemented.
I work in the Emergency Room (ER) of a very busy government hospital. Each day witnesses an array of deaths. Some are brought dead, while others succumb to their illness or injuries or while they are in the hospital. I break the news with as much compassion and courage as I can muster to their relatives and friends. I grieve with those who are grieving. I make sure the legality of death and hospital formalities don’t add to their suffering. But, at the same time, a tiny part of me mourns the loss of viable organs, which, if salvaged on time, could have saved or enriched several precious lives.
The sanctity of human life is unparalleled. Human life, in my opinion, is far too sacred to be lost to organ failure.
With the recent advancements in transplant immunology, several vital organs can now be transplanted, thus minimizing the loss of life via diseases that cause irreversible organ damage. This development is of utmost relevance for diseases carrying a grave prognosis where timely intervention is the key to reducing mortality rate.
The problem is that there exists a lacuna between the demand and availability of donor organs that is seldom given emphasis. A majority of the population is unaware of the fact that we can make sure our organs are put to good use after our demise, and not be unceremoniously wasted.
My own kith and kin vehemently opposed the idea of me pledging my organs. My father refused to sign as a witness and even declared the idea as “morbid”. He absolutely abhorred the thought of me making after-life decisions at the tender age of 20 years. Even my closest friend in the world was appalled at the very idea of a world without me. My explanation to them was – isn’t this the best way to ensure that I live on? That I’m alive both in spirit, and in the eyes of an old man, or the kidney of a 10 year old boy? My liver could be detoxifying a body affected by an autoimmune disease, or my heart could be pumping blood into someone who tired his own out?
Some of us are in denial of the universal truth about eventual death. But there are others who fear that they might leave the world without doing anything substantial or leaving a trace of themselves behind. Pledging your organs is a sure way of ensuring that you, even in your death – have made a big difference. After all, what we leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments but what is woven into the lives of others. A single human body can help save up to eight lives.
I have pledged my route to immortality. Have you?