My father is a brave man. He fought when the entire system went against him, he’s been gheroed by a mob of angry factory workers in Kolkata, taken care of and nursed my mom single-handedly for years. But by far the bravest thing he did was to convince her to donate her body after death for medical research. It wasn’t easy as she was an extremely religious person but I know she agreed as she had a lot of faith in my father. The reason I’m writing this is not because I want to share how brave we were as a family to go ahead with this decision or to share my grief even though I have tears trickling down my eyes as I type. I want to reach out to as many people as I can through my blog, to tell everyone that the process of donating the body isn’t complicated and you can’t imagine the world of a difference one can make by doing so. In one of the articles I was reading on guardian.com (link here) Vishy Mahadevan, the professor of anatomy at the Royal College of Surgeons in London said, “They are the ultimate simulation model for living humans. We are so grateful as a profession for the wonderful generosity of individuals who donate their bodies for no other reason than to benefit mankind.” When I read this article, I was also reminded of what one of my mother’s neighbours, who happens to be a doctor/surgeon, said at the time she came to pay her respects. She told us that the ideal scenario for a medical student to learn efficiently is for 5 students to practice on one cadaver. But the situation is so bad that she never got to learn on a cadaver. Instead, she only practiced on a plastic model. However, cold I might sound but the truth is that she was my mother for me. And she is now a body which was the hardest to deal with. But at the end of it, it felt right, so I guess it must be.
Below is the process we followed to donate my mom’s body:
There are several NGOs across India who coordinate the organ and body donation. We went with DADHICHI DEH DAAN SAMITI as my father had already filled his form a while back.
1) We contacted the NGO within hours of her death. My father and I were in no condition to call them, so I requested my Chachaji to call them. NGO link shared below.
2) Even though my mother had verbally consented for donation, we hadn’t filled the form yet. In case of no donor pledge form has been filled before death, then the authority to give consent for organ donation lies with the person lawfully in possession of the body.
3) The date and time was decided for the final prayers. And the NGO coordinated with AIIMS to pick up the body.
4) The doctor from AIIMS who had come along (it’s mandatory) paid respect to my mother with flowers and by touching her feet. And he thanked us sincerely.
5) AIIMS then issued a certificate for body donation which we used to claim the death certificate.
6) After about 3 months, they will cremate her in electric cremation ground. We will be informed of the date and time and can attend the same to collect the remains.
I won’t deny that it haunted me for many days. We are conditioned to cremate/bury a person after death so doing something like this didn’t come easy. But I also know we did the right thing. A lot of people who attended her prayer ceremony at the Gurudwara have been inspired to do the same. Some even collected the extra forms that my father had with him. My organ donation form has been with me for a while and it’s never too early to fill it up.