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Organ Donation Day 13 Aug. 2016


           Religions encourage followers to be organ donors

Misplaced religious belief is probably the single biggest hurdle medical social workers encounter in hospital corridors while convincing families to donate the organs of their dear ones. Very often, the refusals are based on the perception that their religions don't sanction such as act.
To dispel such myths that come in the way of saving precious life, heads of all prominent religions came together at the Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital in Andheri on Monday. The message was loud and clear: almost no faith in the world speaks against the act of donating organs or entire bodies when it involves saving a life.
Despite at least two decades of advocacy, organ donation has remained a nascent concept in India. It is estimated that about 1-2 lakh people need kidney transplants every year of which only 5,000 actually get an organ. The numbers are further skewed when it comes to liver transplants and cadaveric organs. The primary reason, believes founder of Vedanta Vision Jaya Row, lies in the fact that most people during their lifetime do not cultivate the attitude of giving. "All religions of the world talk about giving, but nobody does," she said.

Row said a deeper understanding of the relationship of body to the person may be required here.

"From the Vedantic standpoint, the physical body is merely a container that houses us or our personality during the lifetime. At the time of death, it has to be given up," she said. She believes India can become a rich nation of donors if people start thinking of their countrymen as their family .

Over the years, technology has played a significant role in spreading awareness about organ donations and the urgent need for people to get onboard. But, it has hardly led to a meaningful change in donor numbers."It is true that technologically, we are tremendously advanced but has human consciousness truly evolved? Do we understand that living becomes worthwhile if we learn the art of giving," said Swami Sukhabodhananda, Chairman of Prasanna Trust, evoking a strong response from the audience.
Talking about myths, Yogacharya Surakshit Goswami said people believe in baseless things, such as, if someone has donated eyes, heshe will be blind in their next birth. "So what about those who donate heart and kidneys? They cannot be born without vital organs," he said urging people to think logically.
The event, co-organized by the Times of India, ahead of the Organ Donation Day observed on August 13, also saw participation from the Muslim and Jew communities.
Irfan Engineer, director of Centre for Study of Society and Secularism said that Islam has been an ardent believer in organ donation provided three conditions were met. "Organ donation is permitted as long as the gesture saves somebody's life and is an absolute necessity . There should not be any financial aspect to the noble act, and most importantly, it should ensure the well-being of the donor (in case of live donations)," he informed. Representing the Jewish community Shulamith Malekar said that Judaism too considers organ donation as the highest commandment."It is not only permitted but also encouraged. It is considered one of the biggest sacrifices," she said.
Christianity thinks no differently, declared Father Stephen Fernandes, a professor of Moral Theology. He emphasised that resurrection does not depend on bodies remaining intact with all organs. "In fact, the conviction of resurrection is consistent with organ do nation," he said. He quoted Saint Pope John Paul II who believed that organ donation was a way of nurturing life when performed in an ethically acceptable way. He also cited the example of Pope Benedict XVI who had pledged to donate his organs and even carried the donation card with him.
According to nephrologist Dr Sharad Seth, attached to the Kokilaben Hospital, a more evolved understanding of what families of organ failure patients endure could help the organ movement. "An entire family gets ruined in the process of dialysis as it is a long-drawn process. The heavy dependence on living donors in the transplant programmes must change," he said. The event closed with a strong appeal from founder of NGO Gift Your Organ Foundation Sameer Dua to make organ donation mandatory and not leave it to choice. "When it comes to receiving an organ, there is no religion. Then why should there be one when it comes to donating?" he questioned, leaving the audience with food for thought.


Editorial by TNN
As F.M.M  let us give a thought to it and dare to spare for another! Long live the donor!