Multiple transplant of organs from a brain-dead woman in Mumbai, India's commercial metropolis, is considered a welcome signal of changing attitude in the country. It was the second cadaver transplant in a fortnight.
Doctors at the Hinduja Hospital (Mahim) had declared the 35-year-old woman, who had suffered brain haemorrhage, brain dead on Thursday.
"After initial hesitation, her husband was very cooperative," said Dr Gustad Daver, medical director of the hospital, who is also the vice-president of the Zonal Transplantation Coordination Committee (ZTCC).
The woman's family donated her liver, two kidneys and two corneas (eyes) to five patients hailing from various parts of the city and country.
The liver went to a 51-year-old patient from Assam. "We started harvesting the donor's liver at 6 am and, four hours later, started transplanting the organ to the recipient," said Dr Daver, explaining the 12-hour-long double operation on Saturday.
The kidney transplants were performed by Dr Sharad Sagde and Dr Vinod Joshi on a 26-year-old patient who had a failed kidney transplant earlier while the second went to a 47-year-old woman. The corneas were given to the eye bank for donation.
This is the second cadaver transplant in a fortnight in Mumbai. The city, however, has a poor score of only five such cases this year.
Speaking at a function in Bombay Hospital the same day, federal Health Minister Ramadoss pointed out that cadaver transplants accounted for barely 0.1% of all transplants in the country.
"In other countries, cadaver transplants account for 10-15% of all transplants," he said, adding "we have to improve this in order to save the lakhs who die every year due to organ failure."
Experts point out that cadaver transplants could be the best way to end the racket going on in the name of "kidney donation," wherein poor people are coaxed into parting with one of their kidneys, but are never paid the money promised.
Those who organize the sale in the thriving black market make a huge money for themselves though.
There is a provision in Indian laws enabling anyone to donate their organs to anyone else "out of affection" and this loophole is made use of by racketeers.
Recently a mafia operating in western parts of the country and led by a southern Indian doctor was busted by the Mumbai police.