Mumbai: 2017's first cadaver donor saved a life, but is denied justice even after death

After an inebriated motorcyclist struck down 72-year-old Somayaji on morning walk, he became Mumbai's first cadaver liver donor in 2017; his family though is lamenting the fact that the accused is still roaming free

Padmanabha Somayaji gave the gift of life to an end-stage liver disease patient

At the end of a life snatched away prematurely, 72-year-old Vasai West resident Padmanabha Somayaji gave the gift of life to an end-stage liver disease patient, becoming this year’s first cadaver donor. But, his family continues to await justice a month after he was knocked down on his morning walk by a motorcyclist, who was allegedly driving under influence.

On January 1, around 6 am, Somayaji was out on his morning walk when tragedy struck. Accused Prashant Kadam, a resident of Naigaon was riding a motorcycle, and was allegedly under the influence of alcohol. He crashed into the senior.

Copy of the letter sent to policeCopy of the letter sent to police

Head injury turns fatal
Both were rushed to Golden Park Hospital, Vasai West, and via a letter signed by a police officer, the doctors informed the Manikpur police of the accident (mid-day is in possession of the letter). However, according to Somayaji’s kin, no immediate action was taken nor was Kadam subjected to medical tests.

FIR that was registered on Jan. 3FIR that was registered on January 3

Meanwhile, on January 3, Somayaji, who had suffered severe head injuries after his head hit a road divider, was declared brain dead by doctors at Wockhardt Hospital, Mira Road, where he shifted. “Despite our attempts to save him,” said Somayaji’s son-in-law, Vivek Kodlekere, “when doctors declared him brain dead, we decided to donate his organs. He was always helping people, so we thought he would have liked this to be his last wish.” Though the corneas and kidneys were found to be unfit for transplant, the liver was deemed viable and helped out a serious liver disease patient at Global Hospital in Parel.

Charged for a lesser crime
It was only after Somayaji passed away that Manikpur police registered an FIR against Kadam and charged him under Sections 279 (Rash driving) and 337, 338 (Causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others), leading to the allegation that cop negligence had weakened the case against the accused. He was released from hospital four days ago, but is yet to be arrested.

Vivek Kodlekere
Vivek Kodlekere

“As per eyewitnesses, he was drunk, but the police didn’t file an FIR nor did they send him for an examination. Its been more than a month, but they haven’t arrested him. How will we now prove that he was under the influence, a crime more serious than rash driving?” said Kodlekere.

Cops deny negligence

When mid-day spoke to investigating officer Mane, he claimed that the police station was informed only after Somayaji died, but the letter from the Golden Park hospital proves otherwise. On the question of why Kadam was still free, Mane said, “He is also a patient and we are waiting for his recovery. As soon as he recovers, we will arrest him.”

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