Priest’s organs donated, but none to support family

Times of IndiaThe story of a priest in his prime suffering brain death, and his family deciding to donate his organs at the corporate Apollo Hospitals was reported a few days ago by the media.

The inspiring example set by K. Prakash’s family was first reported by the Times of India and later by The Hindu. That story is here and here.

Chromepet residents led by Mr. V.Santhanam have been disappointed that Apollo Hospitals decided to collect the charges for treatment, although the grieving family had decided to donate the organs, altruistically. The family paid the bills, after agreeing to the organ donation, without raising a question. They are rendered poor, as a result.

Mr. Santhanam drafted the following appeal, which I believe deserves to be reproduced here. If you would like to help the family, you can contact him at (+91 44) 22388612.

“An Appeal
The donation of the kidneys, liver and heart of brain-dead Chromepet resident K.Prakash, 37 by his family has been widely reported by the media on April 16, 2008. With nothing more than altruism on her mind, the young wife of the public-spirited Prakash signed the donation papers at the Apollo hospital. She now must rebuild the family’s life using a small salary as a teacher, a job that has been very kindly offered to her by a school.
But we note with distress that the family has actually been impoverished as a result of the accident. The victim’s stay in the hospital led to bills totalling about Rs. 2 lakhs incurred towards treatment, before the donation was decided upon. That was remitted by the family.
We salute Prakash’s kin for taking the lofty decision to donate his organs. As members of our wider society we can only feel further humbled that not only was this done, the family paid the money sought by the hospital, which harvested the organs and has since transplanted them, without demur.
At a time when commerce in organs is making waves in the media, and poor people are selling off their kidneys for a small sum to patients who are able to purchase organs, it would have been an act of great empathy if the hospital, which is sufficiently prosperous, had agreed to waive the treatment charges for Prakash.
It is not too late to do so, and we appeal to Apollo Hospitals to refund the money paid by the family. This is by no means a suggestion that there is a quid pro quo in the donation, as no demand was made by the family to the hospital. But it is our duty as members of the community to point out that the family deserves some welfare help, since its breadwinner has been lost.
We take this opportunity to emphasise the need for altruistic donation of organs by families of brain dead patients, and for hospitals to encourage it through genuine, non-commercial gestures of welfare, of which waiver of hospital charges is one.
We also seek greater involvement of the Governments at the Centre and in the State in such issues. Welfare for such donor families in the form of free housing, schooling for children, job for spouse and speedy disbursal of relief from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund for accident victims will do a lot for altruistic organ donation. The spirit of altruism, which is not the strongest trait among living beings, will be tremendously encouraged when families feel secure that their interests will be protected by the State.
This is also a fit occasion to remind the Tamil Nadu Government that the relief available for families of victims of fatal traffic accidents is grossly inadequate. The relief needs to be set at Rs. 2 lakhs per individual, without prejudice to any claims in accident tribunals, and this quantum should be disbursed immediately with a notice issued to the media in confirmation. 


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