A failure to find a kidney donor for her critically ill cousin seven years ago has pushed a young doctor, Upasana Chaudhary from Rajasthan, to make organ donation her mission.
She went on to complete her MBBS after which she worked at Delhi's Ganga Ram hospital for three years. The 28-year-old doctor who is now a faculty member at the PDU Government Medical College in Jhunjhunu district campaigned across 15 districts of Rajasthan until this National Organ Donation Day (November 27) to raise awareness about organ donation.
After her consistent efforts through the campaigns, over 12,000 people enlisted themselves for organ donation with a written oath, reported The New Indian Express.
As a member of the Mahatma Gandhi Swasthya Sansthan, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) set up to raise awareness about organ donation, she began her campaign post-lockdown from September 25.
Her 'Angh Rath Yatra' showcased special films on projectors so that people can be well informed about organ donation after their death and how it can help at least eight people get a better life.
"My cousin needed a kidney transplant, but there was no organ donor. My uncle's HLA (human leukocyte antigen typing) did not match. Even after many attempts, we were not able to prolong his life as he was on dialysis. That's when I realised that I needed to do something," said Upasana.
"We show people films where a person's organ, such as the heart, has been donated to the needy. There are some people who are aware but don't know the donation process. We not only raised awareness but also took a pledge from the willing to donate their organs," she added.
She conducted the Yatra along with her team across different villages and raised awareness about organ donation. To fund the Yatra, she donated her two-month salary.
Himanshu, a contractor from Bikaner talked about how the Yatra has enlightened him about organ donation. He said, "Before I was made aware, I thought we could donate only our eyes after our death. I had no idea about the process. But the Yatra has broadened my vision. I have now pledged to donate all my organs so that others could live a better life,"
"When somebody goes to donate one's organs, one has to fill a form that also has a question on which of the eight organs he/she wants to donate. They can also donate their entire body for medical studies. This data is then fed into a SOTO record. Such people can be traced in case of the worst," said Upasana.
She even had to bust a few myths in her campaign, "It is easy to make educated people aware about donation. But unlettered people have this myth that if they donate their organs, they will be reborn without those organs in the body. To remove these superstitions, we take the help of the local administration and teachers," she added.s
After the Yatra, many people started to call up Upasana and pledged about donating their organs and some even pledged about donating their whole body.
"The final decision rests with their families. But once a person signs up for organ donation, it creates a moral pressure on the family to respect his/her wishes," said Upasana.