J&K: Religion Comes In The Way Of Girl's Wish To Donate Kidney To Friend, Hospital Accused Of Delay
A 23-year-old Sikh social activist from Udhampur, Manjot Singh Kohli, is prepared to confront the court for donating one of her kidneys to her friend Samreen Akhtar, after her family sent a notice to the hospital expressing their disapproval. Manjot has now decided to approach the court as authorities at the Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) Soura are allegedly holding up the procedure by creating “unnecessary hurdles”, states India Today.
“I am emotionally attached to her”
According to Kashmir reader, Manjot has filed a petition in Jammu & Kashmir High Court to obtain the clearance for an organ transplant.
“We have been friends for the past four years and I am emotionally attached to her. Also, it is my strong belief in humanity that motivates me to donate my kidney,” Manjot told news agency PTI.
Even though Samreen was a fellow social activist alongside Manjot, she never revealed her health condition, which has now resulted in an organ failure. Manjot learnt about it from a mutual friend.
She expressed that Samreen has supported her through difficult times and her gratitude prompted her to decide on donating her kidney.
SKIMS is allegedly delaying the process
Manjot says that even though the authorisation committee for organ donation has given clearance for the transplantation procedure, SKIMS is trying to unnecessarily delay the paraphernalia.
However, the Director of SKIMS, Dr Omar Shah, told India Today that the committee is looking into the issue and is working towards a resolution on priority. “We will do whatever best we can. The authorisation committee has informed me that there are legalities involved and they need some more papers before they take a decision on the matter,” Shah was quoted as saying.
Non-consent notice from Manjot’s family
Showing discontent due to religious differences, Manjot’s family has issued a notice to the hospital to prevent her from going ahead with her selfless decision. Manjot thinks that the hospital is not ready for the procedure because of the non-consent letter from her own family and also since the donor and recipient are from different religions. But, she has clarified that she is not one to step back, saying, “I am legally eligible to donate and I do not need my family’s consent.”
Manjot is expecting a favourable judgment from the court since time is of the essence here and the transplantation procedure should not be delayed any further.
Legalities regarding organ donation
Organ transplantation was made legal in India in 1994 under Transplantation of Human Organ Act (THOA) which permits organ donations and transplantation procedures. The act accepted “Brain Death” as a form of death and deemed the sale of organs a punishable offence.
It is easier to donate for first relatives including the father, mother, siblings and even grandparents, a recent inclusion to the list. However, in the event of there being no first relative, the recipient and donor are required to take special permission from the government and show evidence that the basis for the donation is purely affection and empathy for the recipient.
The Logical Indian take
Statistics say that one deceased person can save up to nine lives. Yet every year 500,000 people die due to non-availability of organ donors. While 150,000 people wait for kidney transplants, only 5000 successfully get one. Superstition, misconception, withholding of family consent and a lack of awareness and knowledge, are some of the reasons behind the organ donation crisis in India.
Transplantation in India has raised bizarre religious and moral questions before, such as if the removal of the heart from a cadaver entails snatching away the soul, or if the removal of a kidney or the liver meant the person would be born without that particular organ in the next life. It is evident that such baseless queries are fuelled from lack of literacy and awareness.
The Logical Indian believes that the Government should promote organ transplantation from a scientific perspective, and with a drive to dispel archaic myths and religious misconceptions. The government and medical institutions should be forthright in providing unambiguous support to those who decide to step forward to alleviate the miseries of loved ones and others in need of such acts of compassion.