Promoting organ donation and giving new lease of life!
Columns, Over A Cup of Evening Tea

Promoting organ donation and giving new lease of life!

August 6, 2023

By Dr. K. Javeed Nayeem, MD

Last Thursday, I was a part of the organising team of a small function that was held by the Apollo BGS Hospitals in our city, at the Rani Bahadur Auditorium to mark the National Organ Donation Day. Since this is not a press release about the event and since I also happen to be a part of the hospital team, I do not want to sound like I’m blowing the trumpet about what the institution is doing.

But I am writing this piece as an individual who was fortunate enough to witness what Organ Donation can do to transform the lives of the recipients and also see the kind of solace it can bring into the lives of donors and their families. It was such a different, unique and moving experience that I came away feeling that every person should have an occasion to see and experience this unique joy first hand, some time or the other. And, believe me, here, only seeing is believing!

All of us attend so many different kinds of ceremonies and celebrations as we go along in our daily lives. Certain things that we see or participate in, leave us feeling impressed or unimpressed, depending on how they appeal to our sensibilities.

Just a few years ago, upon the insistence of many of my friends, some of them with very profound and intellectual dispositions, I attended a much-hyped lecture by a celebrity speaker of international fame, only to come out of the hall dismayed that two hours of my precious time was completely wasted by my continuing to sit there, with the fond hope that the much-awaited glimmer of brilliance would come in the next minute! But on a good many occasions I have attended some very ordinary events, sometimes to just fulfil the formality of attending them, at having been invited, without any expectations whatsoever, only to come out deeply touched and even transformed!

What I attended on Thursday was one such event, because it was certainly one of the most moving experiences I’ve gone through in a long time. And, going by what I saw and heard, I was not alone in feeling this way. I can say with certainty that every one who was present there on that occasion, could not have felt otherwise. It was a function organised to promote organ donation in our country where it has not really taken off yet. Scholars of all the major religions were invited to give their views about what their respective faiths said about organ donation. Thankfully every one of them, without exception, endorsed that donating organs to save lives was the ultimate gift a person can give and also the most essential thing to promote in these days of medical miracles.

The more unique part of this function was that it was an event to which a good many of the organ transplant recipients had been invited to speak about their feeling after getting a new lease of life. And, similarly, a good many of the living donors and the family members of the brain-dead cadaver donors too had been invited, to speak about their sense of happiness and peace after having done what they did.

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This is the element that gave the event an ethereal and almost spiritual lift! It was a sheer joy to see and hear the recipients recalling how their agony got transformed into ecstasy, in getting a new and completely unexpected lease of life, good health and longevity, from a state of utter helplessness and despair.  More moving and more touching, although inevitably painful, was the experience of listening to the difficult time the family members of brain-dead cadaver donors had to go through, in coming to terms with their losses and yet having to take heart-wrenching decisions to save the lives of some complete strangers. Every one of them, through their tears said just one thing…… that they were happy with what they did and felt happier still in knowing that their loved ones were continuing to live on, beyond their destined live spans!

Of rice shortages in India and the US!

In response to my last weekend’s article about the ‘not-so-cold’ war between the congress and the BJP in India, Murali, a Star of Mysore reader from Mysuru, now in Virginia in the USA, has written a letter to the editor which has been published recently. He says that my insinuation that the refusal of the BJP Government at the Center, to supply rice to the Congress Government in our State, for its ‘Anna Bhagya’ scheme, could be a deliberate act, may not  entirely be correct.

Yes, I agree with him fully, that it may not be correct in its entirety and that is exactly why I have also used the speculative phrase of ‘whether it is true or not’ while suggesting that the Center that is driven by a different political party, may have declared that its warehouses do not have enough rice to meet the demands made on them by our State Government.

I see it as a probable and expected stand of non-cooperation which is not very surprising, because the BJP Government at the Centre, after facing defeat in the Karnataka elections, naturally cannot be expected to be very favourably disposed towards helping the present State Government to easily fulfil its certainly outlandish and quixotic promises to its supporters.

And, that is exactly how things always are in politics. Actually, I would have been greatly surprised if the Congress had behaved differently, had there been a reversal of roles between the Centre and the State! I say this because, all politicians are the same, whichever party they represent and in politics, everything can be fair, as in love and war, without being fair at all !

The reader has also said that the effect of the rice shortage in India has been having a disturbing effect on the availability of Indian rice in the US too. He says that he was able to pick up a few bags of Indian rice only with great difficulty because he was told that India has banned exports of rice due to a domestic scarcity. He goes on to add that we cannot call this export ban as politics as it affects our own country’s prospects and status as an exporter of large volumes of rice and the ban is simply to protect India’s domestic needs first and then to resort to exporting the surplus.

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Now, let’s peep a little into official Indian Government statistics which clearly show that while India is not a very great exporter of surplus rice as compared to wheat, which sadly has no takers abroad, thankfully it does have enough rice to consume and export too, which it has been doing comfortably for the past few years. It is  also reliably learnt that the recent ban on export of rice is more of a very logical precautionary measure, in view of the present adverse and uncertain climatic conditions now prevailing in our country, with the monsoon being very erratic this year, especially in our rice growing regions.

Secondly, the rice under discussion here is not of the variety that is worthy of exporting but of the most ordinary quality which has almost no takers, at any respectable price, in the export market. Thus, banning the export of rice will have no impact, adverse or favourable on the availability of the very ordinary kind of rice meant for free distribution within the country. So, the effects of this ban that Indian rice lovers are seeing in the US in the form of rice shortages, only concern the superior types of rice that are in demand there. Indian rice, of the kind that is being discussed here is of a rather poor quality, and it is something that is being refused to be eaten and therefore sold away to hotels and restaurants, even by the poor who are getting it completely free of cost, thanks to Government schemes.

However, our friends from abroad too can have a taste of it if they come down to India and try out our mouth-watering idlis and dosas at some of our most ordinary restaurants and eateries. And, if they care to ask what makes the humble and inexpensive fare served here, stand out from what is served in the best Indian restaurants abroad, at astronomical costs, they will be surprised to learn that it is all because of the inferior quality of rice that goes into them. The, lower the quality of rice, the better the taste of what they love to eat! Mera Bharat Mahan!

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