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80-member joint family from Maharashtra pledges to donate bodies, organs


Palghar (Maharashtra): An 80-member joint family living in Agashe village near Virar in Maharashtra has suddenly come into prominence after all of them voluntarily pledged to donate their bodies or organs and tissues.

Headed by retired farmer Baptista Lopes, the East Indian Christian family was inspired by a talk by Puroshottam Patil-Pawar, the chief trustee of the Bapusaheb Patil-Pawar Charitable Trust which runs NGO Dehmukti Mission that creates awareness on eye and cadaver donations.

Starting with the 82-year old patriarch Baptista, four members have already signed pledges to donate their full bodies, while the other 76 will donate organs or tissues.

“Around 20-odd family members either live or work elsewhere, but they have agreed to come and pledge their donation in due course,” said Baptista’s son Elvis Lopes, a 60-year-old retired private company employee.

The Lopes family is one of the rare and huge single joint families in the coastal Konkan region with around 100 members living peacefully and happily in one single wadi in Agashe village, around five km from Virar station.

“When we heard Patil-Pawar’s simple and scientific explanations on the benefits of body or organ donation, we were impressed and convinced to do our bit. In fact, on January 10, when most of my family was present, a majority raised their hands in the auditorium,” Lopes said..

Patil-Pawar said: “The Lopes family asked me to speak about the topic on which we are campaigning and creating awareness. It was on January 10, when the family was marking the 25th death anniversary of their former patriarch Bascao Dinya Lopes, who died in 1991 at the age of 79.”

After that, around 60 Lopes family members filled up forms pledging tissues like eyes and skin, and organs like blood, lungs, kidneys, intestines, heart, pancreas, liver, bones and bone marrow, and four members including Baptista pledged their full bodies.

The rest, some not living there currently, or the 12 minors — the youngest to pledge is only 12 years old and others, including school and college going children — have announced their intention to sign up after they become majors.

Charged by the cause, Patil-Pawar said the Lopes family members were now enthusiastically reaching out to other villagers and also their own distant relatives in other parts of Maharashtra and elsewhere to make similar pledges. (IANS)(Photo:

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Public sector suffers as organ donations go to private hospitals


Mumbai: Public hospitals in the city have only received five organ donations this year, as compared to the 111 donations which went to private sectors, thus calling for a more even distribution. Though the cause behind this issue is most likely the poor participation of public hospitals in the cadaver donation programme, demands have risen to improve the distribution practice.

Since 1997, 453 cadaver kidneys transplants were carried out, according to statistics from the Zonal Transplant Coordination Committee (ZTCC) which is in charge of organ distribution. Out of that number, the public sector received only 40 donations. It also needs to be mentioned that over the last 18 years, the four major hospitals-cum-medical colleges–KEM, Sion, Nair and JJ—collectively contributed less than 40 donations.

Liver transplants are exclusively offered in the city by the private sector. The KEM hospital in Parel ran a short unsuccessful programme and received eight livers of the 135 cadaveric transplants all over the city in the last decade. Experts comment that the city or the state would do good to follow the Tamil Nadu model or the US model in this regard.

The policy for organ sharing in Tamil Nadu directs every alternate donation, of the lungs, heart or liver, towards public hospitals, thus ensuring that both private and public sectors benefit equally from the donation programme.

The US model makes use of a central database of patients where each is attributed a ‘patient score’, which takes into account the seriousness of the patient’s condition and his/her blood group, stated the general secretary of ZTCC, Dr Sujata Patwardhan to TOI. The patient on the waiting list who has the highest ‘patient score’ gets the organ. “The hospitals do not know who is likely to get the next organ. It depends on the patient’s score,” she said.

Questions often crop up with an increase in awareness, as to who benefits from the donations, remarked a senior transplant coordinator. “In public hospitals, particularly, donor families always want to know if the hospital or anybody else will monetarily benefit from the donation. It is in the larger interest of the programme that more donations as well as transplants happen in the public sector,” added the senior coordinator.

Dr Sanjay Nagral, a liver transplant surgeon opined that public hospitals could very well carry out more kidney transplants as they were less complicated than liver transplants, which are still largely carried out in private hospitals, even in Tamil Nadu.

Director of the major BMC hospitals, Dr Suhasini Nagda, said that a major issue in the public hospitals of the city is cadaver identification, though steps are being taken to rectify that.

However, Union Health Minister JP Nadda at the sixth Indian Organ Donation Day at Vigyan Bhavan, Delhi, said that the government has taken initiatives to open facilities for organ transplantation in public hospitals. Steps are also being taken to improve the number of donations.

“We have also decided to train the paramedics in hospitals and sensitise them about organ donation, so that they can further pitch about the issue in the society,” said Nadda.

The minister has also called upon individuals, NGOs and voluntary organisations to come forward and work with the health ministry.