Service in death
In a refreshing and welcome move, the Ministry of State for Health and Family Welfare emphasised on the need to promote the practice of organ donation across the country. The surprising fact in India is that most donations are being done by living donors and of the donations made only 23 per cent is being transplanted to the needy patients. We are battling a shortage of donations across the country and to top that, if the successful conversion of donations too meets a roadblock, then the situation would be undoubtedly unfortunate. Being a country with proliferating population, the only upside in sight would be the subsequent growing rate of mortality and thereby avenues for acquiring consensual organs from patients who have succumbed to death but can still contribute to societal well-being. The lack of awareness and superstitions surrounding the donation of organs post-death continues to be a significant barrier that is impeding the successful conversion of organ transplantation in the country. An estimated 1.8 lakh people suffer from renal failure annually, of which only 6000 are able to receive a new organ. Around two lakh people die annually of liver failure, of which only 10-15 per cent are saved with a timely transplant. At any given time, eight to 10 people are suffering from a brain-stem death in the ICU's of major cities, yet very few of these patients' organs are utilised for donation. Death of a near one is a difficult time for the family, often making rationalisation an obstacle. However, by emphasising our efforts on increasing awareness we can overcome a major hurdle in the availability of organs that could save the lives of lakhs of people suffering from renal failure, liver damage, or corneal blindness in our country. The black market for selling organs continues to thrive in our country, because of the absence of a well-organised institutional infrastructure that would support the successful procedure of legal donation and transplant. The government must allocate its budget to improve the backbone that would support this entire process of retrieving and replanting organs. While the government plays its role, the society has a big spot to fill in—with community awareness, discussion and motivating one another to take the correct step by shedding superficial traditions. Superstitions regarding after-life and preserving the entire dead body before its journey to heaven continues to be an obstacle that deters many from donating the organs of their dear ones. However, it must be held in mind that there is no greater religious duty than service to mankind; and organ donation today tops the list among the services that we can provide to our fellow citizens who are battling diseases that are bringing their lives to a quick halt. What better way to begin the journey to heaven than by contributing to unconditional service, even in death.