Dying to Live: Urgent Need to Increase Organ Donation Awareness in India
Thousands of people die every year waiting for someone to donate an organ that is so vitally important and could have kept them alive. Very few seem to care. Frequent campaigns are needed to sensitize the Indian public on urgent need to step up organ donations and save precious lives. In the case of deceased organ donation, organs and tissues harvested from a person declared 'brain dead' can be used to save as many as nine lives or more.
One such initiative was the Organ donation rally organized at the Marina Beach, Chennai, South India on Sunday by MOHAN Foundation (Multi Organ Harvesting Aid Network), a not-for-profit organization promoting deceased organ donation. The rally which was flagged off by Mr. Saidai S. Duraisamy, Mayor, Corporation of Chennai, at the Triumph of Labour statue and reached the Gandhi statue where a unique sand sculpture depicting organs that can be donated to save lives was etched on the sands of Marina beach.
Speaking on the occasion, the Mayor observed, "Organ donation is one donation that doesn't require a person to have material wealth in order to be able to give away something to another. It just requires the willingness to pledge one's organs after death for another's use, getting a donor card and informing the nearest kith and kin about the intention to donate." The Mayor said he would explore ways to step up infrastructure to speed up availability of organs for transplant and assured the gathering that the Corporation of Chennai would help facilitate venues for awareness campaigns and rallies to take the organ donation movement forward.
Mr. Sharad Sharma, Chief General Manager, State Bank of India was pained to note that even 17 years after the Transplantation of Human Organ Act was passed in India, there was severe lack of awareness on organ donation among the Indian population and there were very few NGOs promoting organ donation awareness in India. Mr. Sharma informed the audience that SBI had donated a public education van to MOHAN Foundation in order to spread the message of organ donation to a wide spectrum of people.
Mr. Anantha Padmanabhan, NAC Jewellers said that the best way to take the movement forward was for every person to pledge to donate his or her organs and be a role model to others. He said, following his example about 60 or more of his family and friends had signed a Donor Card.
Welcoming the gathering, Dr. Sunil Shroff, Managing Trustee of MOHAN Foundation said, "Tamil Nadu is at the forefront of the deceased organ donation programme in India. The latest statistics show that there have been 230 organ donors in the state from October 2008 till date. As a result 1318 organs and tissues have been donated saving many lives. Events such as this help people realize the importance of this cause and build positive public will about organ donation."
Dr. V. Kanagasabai, Dean, MMC & RGGGH, Dr. M. Panchanathan, JD (MEDL), DMRHS, Dr. N. Muthurajan, Dy. Director of Medical Education, and Dr. V. Palani, Medical Superintendent, participated in the rally which also had enthusiastic corporate people and students from colleges like Loyola College, Agrasen College, Quaid-e-Milleth, Sindhi College, and SDNB Vaishnav College marching to promote awareness on organ donation carrying banners with slogans such as, "Give Life a Second Chance", "Don't take your organs to heaven. God knows it's needed here." MCC students effectively presented the theme of organ donation through a vibrant street theatre performance. The Mayor distributed medals to the sand sculptors from Government College of Fine Arts.
MOHAN Foundation a not-for-profit, non-governmental organisation was started to promote deceased organ donation. It is a registered NGO with Income Tax exemption under Section 80G and 35AC and has offices in Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Coimbatore, Chandigarh, Delhi, Visakhapatnam and USA.