Maharashtra: Doctor Couple Funds Surgeries Of Two Children In Memory Of Their Daughter
On December 8, 2017, a doctor couple from Amravati lost their three-month-old daughter in a car accident. Despite their best efforts, they weren’t able to donate their daughter’s organs. Eight months later, the couple has funded the open heart surgeries of two children in the memory of their daughter on August 21, the day that was supposed to be their daughter’s first birthday.
The Car Accident
The Sawarkars were in their car, right outside their house when a car crashed into their own, injuring mother Dr Ashwini Sawarkar and baby Meera, with the baby receiving a severe injury to her brain. After several failed attempts to revive her, the parents were informed of the possibility of brainstem death. A repeat MRI showed that their daughter had a very feeble chance at a normal life. The parents then took the brave decision of donating their child’s organs.
“As doctors and parents, my wife and I had an intense desire to see our child staying alive in someone else,” Dr Umesh Sawarkar told TOI.
Since the laws surrounding organ donation for infants lack clarity and awareness probably because cadaver donation among babies is extremely rare in our country, baby Meera died before her organs could be retrieved.
Funding the surgeries for two children
Three months ago the couple started scouting hospitals looking for children in dire need of financial aid.
“Meera’s organs would have given new lives to children, but that was neither in our destiny nor in our hands. Even as we recovered from her loss, we didn’t want to lose hope. That’s how we decided to help children who wait endlessly to undergo corrective surgeries,” Dr Umesh told Times of India.
Social workers brought them to Amravati-based Shri Sant Acchyut Maharaj Heart Hospital, showing them the case files of four-and-a-half-year-old Payal Parate and five-year-old Aswashil Dhawale. Both the children had a congenital heart disease- having a hole in their heart. They couldn’t undergo the surgery due to lack of funds.
Payal is the third daughter of a daily wage labourer, who allegedly did not show any urgency to receive treatment for his daughter. Payal suffered from recurring infections, and her body lacked the proper growth a child her age should have. She was diagnosed with the heart condition only after an anganwadi worker pointed out the possibility of a larger health issue behind her ailments. Payal had been waiting for nearly a year to undergo the surgery as the government approval for her funding had not arrived.
Aswashil also suffered from similar ailments as Payal- recurrent urinary infections, always appeared tired in school and underperformed in his studies. The boy was lucky, however, as the government’s approval for funding his surgery came at the last moment. The doctor said they will use the money allocated for the boy for some other child who is in dire need of it.
A New Life
After his daughter’s successful surgery, Payal’s father expressed his joy to Dr Umesh, who had also arranged for transportation to bring the child and her family to the hospital on the day of the surgery. Since the girl was not covered under any government scheme, the Sawarkars covered all the expenses.
These two children from Wagholi and Deogaon villages of Amravati can now dream of living a normal life. The couple, on the other hand, feels a sense of satisfaction after helping the children. “Nothing can fill the vacuum created by Meera’s death, but the smiles on the faces of these children can help us cope with the pain,” said Dr Ashwini.
The couple is now going to continue to check up on the health of the two children. They are also following up on the proceedings of the car accident case that took the life of their little girl. The driver who had caused the accident was given bail after 45 days, the couple told TOI.
The Logical Indian Take
We commend the bravery and altruism shown by Meera’s parents; they have not only given a new life to both these children, but they have also started a discussion surrounding the clarity of organ donation laws for infants. They say the smallest coffins are the heaviest, that there is no measure of the pain the Sawarkars must be facing, but perhaps we can learn from their actions and do our bit, to pledge to donate our organs and save other people.