“The only way of helping people who are in dire need of organs, to stay alive is, by spreading awareness about deceased organ donation and encouraging people to Pledge their Organs” said celebrated Bollywood Actress, Raveena Tandon at the “Youth Against Organ Trafficking Conclave” hosted by Harmony Foundation, at the prestigious St. Xavier’s College, on 31st January, 2020. Ms. Tandon has pledged her organs and is an organ donation ambassador for MOHAN Foundation.
Purpose of the forum was to highlight the long list of people waiting to receive a life-saving organ in India, which at times lead to people resorting to desperate measures like illegal harvesting of organs and organ trade. Objective of the conclave was to spread awareness about deceased organ donation and enable the youth to take the Pledge to be organ donors.
MOHAN Foundation’s Project Manager, Ms. Jaya Jairam addressed the audience comprising around 250 students of St. Xavier’s College on “Deceased Donation – a Solution to end Organ Trafficking”. When asked as to how many had heard about organ donation, many hands went up but none knew the process and very few had already pledged their organs. Sharing more information on the hitherto uncomfortable subject, she spoke on options available for a person suffering from end stage organ failure, types of death, the concept of brain death, which organs can be donated and when, need for organ donation and the legalities involved in organ donation. Being a kidney recipient herself, she shared her traumatic experience of having a loved one go under the knife, when her mother donated one of her kidneys to her, out of sheer love and affection.
Dr. Mary Mathew, chair UNESCO BioEthics – Indian Mission, suggested alternative and futuristic solutions to this problem of organ trafficking – 3D printing of organs which would eliminate the need for removal and distribution of organs.
Dr. Madhu Chopra, mother of Priyanka Chopra, who has lost loved ones to organ failure, highlighted that poverty was one of the main causes why organ trafficking and trade thrive. She posed a contrary perspective while speaking for legalizing organ trade. She stressed on government’s role in bringing equity into the healthcare system by developing good quality centres for organ donation and transplantation, thereby making the life-saving option inexpensive and accessible to the poor.
Dr. Narinder Mehra, former dean of AIIMS and currently on the board of DAFOH (Doctors against Forced Organ Harvesting), strongly felt that legalising organ trade would hurt the system. He suggested working for increasing deceased organ donation as a sustainable solution.
Ms. Tandon shared that US has a policy of adding Organ Donor wish on the driving license and that similar practices in India will go a long way. All the speakers agreed that motivating the youth about pledging for organ donation, through awareness and sensitization was of utmost importance. Ms. Faye D’souza, anchor at a leading Television channel and a youth icon sent a strong message by taking the Pledge herself.
Dr. Abraham Mathai, Founder of Harmony Foundation, concluded that Organ donation awareness was the only viable solution for putting an end to the tragedy of people getting kidnapped for organ harvesting or persons volunteering to sell their organs.
MOHAN Foundation set up a Pledge desk at the venue for enabling interested students to take the Organ Donor Pledge.
I saw the instagram post of @fayedsouza pledging as Organ Donor, I immediately sat with my laptop and I decided to share the same in my social media to inspire the others as well, and I think it has already been influencing my friends. Thank you Faye DSouza, for inspiring me.................