Acid Attack Survivor, Laxmi Agarwal Fore-Fronting A New Cause: Skin Donation Campaign
The Bengaluru Skin Donation Walkathon was organized by Rotary Midtown Bangalore earlier this month. Acid attack survivor and social activist, Laxmi Agarwal, who Deepika Padukone is all set to play in movie Chhapaak is once again making waves not only for her biopic but also for spreading awareness about India’s first skin donation campaign.
Instances Of Acid Attacks
The real-life inspiration is urging people to learn about their contribution in donation and help victims. As per reports, there are 70 lakh burn injuries in India annually, out of which 7 lakh require hospital admission and 1.4 lakh are fatal. Of which, 90,000 of those affected are women.
The first of its kind initiative, a 5km walkathon witnessed a total of 4500 participants and was successful in receiving 1500 on the spot pledges for skin donation.
Laxmi Holds Myths And Taboos Responsible
She said, “People believe that organ and tissue donation means that the body will be mutilated and treated badly. The truth is, donation does not disfigure the body or change the way it looks.”
“The idea of transplanting an organ from a corpse into another body is also seen by some as ‘impure’. We must work towards breaking the multifarious myths and taboos that surround this conversation,” she added.
Attacked in Delhi’s Khan Market in 2005 by her friend’s brother as a revenge for her refusal to marry him, she has encountered many such challenges.
Speaking about the same she said, “When I first saw my face afterwards, I was devastated. The mental and physical toll of the attack was unbearable. It became challenge managing menstrual hygiene as even a thin strip of cloth weighed my bruised body down.”
The brave-heart listed down important considerations to know about Skin Donation, from basic donation criteria to harvesting and transplantation.
She said, “For skin donation, the nearest skin bank themselves come to the place of death and collects skin of the deceased person.”
“People with tattoos, piercing, having diabetes or hypertension can also donate their skin; blood or tissue match between donor and recipient is not required; donation can only be within six hours from the time of the death,” she added.
Skin Donation In India
Burn victims require special care and treatment including isolation, and counselling to overcome the trauma. Donating your skin after your death, instead of burning or burying your body would be a great service to millions who are suffering.
The best way to contribute is by pledging your skin at www.skinbankbangalore.in “.
“This is helpful for victims of acid attacks as well as burn injuries. There have been cases wherein family members have wanted to donate but could not do so due to lack of facilities,” she suggested.
Marking the event as her first time in promoting the cause, she added, “I want this campaign to reach far and wide, especially because people get depressed due to their skin. It will help many survivors and their families get through the process easily.”
The Path Ahead
In order to note the flow of her embarked initiative she says, “My next move is to encourage and request people in India to put 1-minute videos on Instagram reiterating how pledging to donate skin is the need of the hour. You can take a one minute video on social media with the #skindonation and share it publicly to create more awareness about the cause.”
The 29- year old survivor of a brutal hate crime underwent seven surgeries over the course of seven years that cost 20 lakh from her father’s savings and his employer at that time.
Finally, even after multiple barriers and a lot of resistance from the community and the girls in her institution, she completed her Diploma in the year 2006.
Her inspiring crusade has brought hope to acid attack survivors time and again for a while now.
She has pointed out the behaviour of the police towards victims, “very often police take the victim to the nearest hospital and leave them there.”
“They think that their responsibility is limited to registering the case, filing an FIR, and taking the patient to the hospital. They don’t bother to see the kind of treatment she is receiving or even whether that particular hospital is equipped to deal with acid burn cases,” she said.
Role Of Rehabilitation Process
One key area that she thinks she would urge people to focus on is the rehabilitation process. It is to ensure that the survivors receive adequate treatment and healthcare options.
“Further, care needs to be taken to ensure that the eye of the victim is not affected by the acid as even a drop of the chemical can melt the eyelids,” she adds.
Inspiration To Fight
Adding an end note for women who watch you out as an ideal, she adds an inspiring message, “I tell my story to give hope to the parents and victims of survivors. Through my story, I want to tell all the women to support one another, become our strength, and help fight this menace of violence against women.”
“This can happen to anyone and we can stop it when we fight together. Be comfortable in your own skin and embrace it with all your heart. Learn to love yourself just the way that you are and the world will love you for the same,” she proudly said.