ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Two Mothers - A Thank You & a Sorry

Anshul Mantri was a 19 year old budding student who had just started studying chartered accountancy. His parents looked forward to a bright future for their young boy. On the 29th of December he fell from a local train in Mumbai & suffered severe injuries to his brain. On the 31st of December 2013 when the world was in its usual festive mood to welcome the New Year, Anshul was declared brain dead at Mumbai’s King Edward Memorial Hospital. His parents were approached with a request to donate his organs. Even in that moment of intense loss & grief they agreed. Literally at the stroke of the new year his organs were removed . His kidneys & liver were transplanted to two fortunate individuals  on the first day of 2014.

On the 29th of March at a function held at the same hospital to celebrate Maharashtra Organ Donation Day, Anshul’s parents were felicitated by actor Aamir Khan along with 20 other families who had donated the organs of someone very close to them in the previous year. After Anshul's family had received the mementos on stage, his mother requested permission to speak. In front of an auditorium packed with more than 500 people, largely medical students she took the mike & calmly related her story. She described the last moments in the hospital & how they made the decision to donate. And then she made a remarkable plea to the organisers. “Don’t call it donation” she pleaded. “My son has been rehabilitated in others bodies. Why do you call it donation? Call it rehabilitation” she said before she broke down. The 10th of January would have been Anshuls 20th birthday.

Dhaval Lodaya was a 17 year old lad who had just finished his twelfth exam. On the of 20th of March, he was returning by Mumbai’s local train after visiting a temple in the distant suburb of Asangaon along with three friends when their train derailed between Ambivli & Titwala station. Dhaval fell out of the train & injured his head. He was alive & breathing. His friends pleaded with other passengers for help but many of them were just capturing the moment on their mobile phone camera. His friends Jay, Karan & Mandeep then tried calling local police but were shunted from one number to another. They called the new emergency ambulance service 108. In the meantime the Railway Police , a local corporator & many others refused to take Dhaval to hospital. The ambulance arrived after one & half hours. According to Dhaval's friends they first started administering first aid to those with minor injuries. They had to snatch the stretcher & force them to take Dhaval to the ambulance. The doctor in the ambulance declared him dead around two hours after the fall. Like hundreds of young men & women every year Dhaval had died a grisly death on Mumbai’s railway tracks.  Many of these lives are lost due to a complete absence of prompt medical help. Whilst Mumbai makes several tall claims to modernity & infrastructure nothing has changed for the victims of road & rail accidents. Its emergency medical response system is in shambles.

On the 23rd of March, Dhaval's mother led a protest march from their residence in Ghatkopar to VT station. The remarkably determined looking lady had a placard in her hand with a picture of Dhaval’s dead body with the words “I want Justice’. The parents, family & Dhaval’s friends have launched a campaign seeking to point out the delay in attention to the dying Dhaval as he lay on the tracks next to the derailed bogey. They have petitioned the railways, the government & the police. Dhaval’s mother is leading from the front.

Anshul's death saved 3 lives. There are many such ordinary families who are beginning to donate organs of someone very close to them. They do this in spite of a health care system, which can be impersonal, unfriendly & often unaffordable. The campaign for organ donation seems to be touching a chord. But if anyone is earnestly listening to the issues being raised by Dhaval's death it could also save many more lives.  Many accidental deaths in Indian are preventable. There have been numerous cases of scandalous delay in administering emergency medical care highlighted in the public domain but no one seems moved. In the campaign for organ donation after death the campaign to save lives cannot be forgotten.

Two extraordinary mothers.  Both heroic in their own way. Thank you Ms Mantri & Anshul & sorry Ms Lodaya & Dhaval.  

About Author

Sanjay Nagral is a surgeon based in Mumbai who occasionally puts down the scalpel to wield the pen on issues in contemporary Indian Healthcare from within the belly of the beast.&nbsp;</div>
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