Lord Ganesha - God of Transplant Surgery
The birthday of Lord Ganesha, Ganesh Chaturthi, is a major Hindu festival and is celebrated worldwide. Each year, it falls between 20th August and 15th September, when the whole of India pulsates with festivities that last for 2 -10 days. Well-adorned clay idols of Ganesha atop a mouse, ranging from miniscule to lofty ones, are designed to suit the needs of the devotees. 'Puja' or prayers are offered to the idol, everyday.
A closer look at the 'marvelous masterpiece' unravels the mystery that Ganesha is!
Ganesha - World's 'first' Xeno-transplant
If the story of Lord Ganesha is true, as depicted in the Hindu mythology, He is, perhaps, the first example of xeno-transplantation in the world.
Today, with shortage of organs the world over, the attractive option of using animal organs is being explored all the time. If research could overcome rejection (antigen- antibody reaction), then, using animal body parts for humans could become a reality. Some examples of animal tissue that is used in the humans include heart valves that are derived from pigs.
Ganesha has an elephant's head on the human body. The transplant is believed to have been performed by Lord Shiva. The scientific significance of Ganesha's form may be interpreted as follows-
» Lord Ganesha looks abnormally obese, especially so in the regions of his abdomen and chest. After transplant surgery almost all patients receive steroids leading to a similar obesity. One wonders if Ganesha was on a long-term high dose of steroids after the transplant? No other Indian God is shown with this type of physique.
» Lord Ganesha's accompanying mate is shown as a mouse - which sits in the lower corner of the picture. Most of the transplant research is done on mice before it is extrapolated on humans. There are reasons to ponder if the mouse is depicted for a purpose; giving the small animal its dues.
» After the transplant surgery, Lord Shiva is believed to have given Ganesha an elixir to drink. One cannot help speculating if this was some potion containing an anti-rejection medication. It is common practice to use similar booster anti-rejection drugs during transplant surgeries performed today.
Solid organ transplants are now common venture and almost any organ can be transplanted. Recently there have been instances of face transplants; however head transplant is the most complex of all transplants and no one has attempted this feat. Xeno-transplants of the head are unlikely to be used and can be only be confined to mythological stories such as that of Lord Ganesha.
Reconcile with 'Recycling'
Ganesha holds a unique niche in the minds of millions of devotees the world over. On the tenth day, the festivities of Ganesh Chaturthi meet a watery end, when clay idols of Ganesh are immersed in local water bodies. This is in accordance to the law of natural recycling.
These celebrations should also trigger thoughts that question their validity and prompt us to ponder on their significance, if any! Although we indulge in treason and murder, what makes us unique, as a race, is the ability to donate our body parts to revive a fellow human; the supreme sacrifice- to donate life! Let this be the presiding thought as we celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi this year and in the years to come.