Sunday, March 05, 2006

On Death and Organ Donation

I just came back from the residence of Dr. Swaminathan, a popular physics teacher at St. Stephens College, New Delhi. I had gone there to condole the death of Dr. Swaminathan, who expired a few days ago. My wife was his student in her undergraduate days.

I witnessed a phenominal thing at his residence. Dr. Swaminathan's wife showed us a cetificate of appreciation from the professor in-charge of the Organ Retrieval Banking Organisation (ORBO) at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). Dr. Swaminathan had donated his organs and his body to ORBO. Even in his death, Dr. Swaminathan has left behind a legacy. Sir, I bow before you for this Supreme Gift to the needy.

Which brings me back to a topic I have often discussed with close friends and family, regarding my wish to donate my organs to the needy and the left over body for use in a medical college anatomy lab. I have always teased my wife, that I would prefer my body to be donated to the Lady Hardinge Medical College, New Delhi (a women's medical college), for obvious reasons and she always retorts back that I am a hopeless pervert :).

Recently, I was talking to someone about the state of privatisation of professional education in India. He mentioned that the norms for setting up an engineering college are fairly lax and that explains the over 1200 private engineering institutes in this country. On the contrary, the number of medical colleges is not that large. Is it that the Medical Council of India (the regulatory body for approving medical colleges in India) has more stringent norms? Perhaps. But a more plausible reason is the utter lack of cadavers, which is absolutely essential to a medical college. So, a private medical college would pay anything to get a cadaver?

After my visit to Dr. Swaminathan's house I have modified my wish. As before, my organs be donated to the needy through ORBO. But my body to be auctioned (I dont know if its legal to auction one's own dead body) to the highest bidder from all the private (or government) medical colleges in India for use as a cadaver in their college. The money from the auction to be used for a suitable charitable cause.


Dhananjay Gadre


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