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Brain-dead woman becomes saviour for four in Kolkata

Kolkata: A 70-year-old brain-dead woman here bequeathed a new lease of life to four persons, with her kidneys and cornea were successfully transplanted in the city's first multi-organ cadaver donation operation on Monday.

The two kidneys, two cornea and the liver were harvested from the body of Sovana Sarkar - declared brain dead on Monday - in deference to her wish to donate her organs posthumously.

The two kidneys of Sarkar have been transplanted on Keya Ray and Shiekh Firozuddin, who were hospitalised due to kidney complications. Sarkar's corneas have been successfully transplanted on two persons, but a recipient for her liver is yet to be found.

All the four recipients were stable, said Pratim Sengupta, Consultant Transplant Physician & Nephrologist of Belle Vue Clinic.

Resident of the city's southernmost fringe Panchasayar, Sarkar was admitted to a private hospital on June 20 with neurological complications and, subsequently, suffered cardiac arrest. Though she was revived, her brain stem functions were irreversibly damaged.

On Monday, after the state government's brain dead declaration committee gave its final nod, the process of organ extraction started.

Sarkar's son Prasenjit said: "My mother used to say that she would be pleased to help the needy with her organs after her death."

On receiving information from Peerless Hospital, where Sarkar was admitted, a team of doctors from Belle Vue Clinic went to the hospital.

"With exemplary co-operation from Swastha Bhaban officials, all legal formalities were finished fast and Sarkar was shifted to Belle Vue Clinic for organ retrieval.

"Potential recipients awaiting renal transplant were intimated and information was sent to all hospitals where regular transplants are conducted. Without delay, tests and cross-matching of the donor and potential recipients were done," a Bellevue Clinic release said.

Keya Roy (30) of Garia, and Firozuddin, a middle-aged man, were finally selected for kidney transplantation.

The doctors harvested both the kidneys which were transplanted on Roy at Belle Vue and Firozuddin at the state-run SSKM Hospital.

A team of doctors from Disha Hospital retrieved both the cornea and transplanted these on two persons.

Sarkar's daughter-in-law said: "It is a proud feeling to know that she will continue to live within a 30-year-old lady."

"I have heard that others face a lot of problem to acquire the no-objection certificate. It is miraculous that we got a donor so quickly," said Keya's sister Puja.

"We lost all hopes but after the transplant, he is doing well. He is conscious," said a relative of Firozuddin.

"I have no words to thank the Sarkar family. May Allah bless her family," said Firozuddin's mother emotionally.

Drawing courage from Sarkar's exemplary act, Puja said: "She has inspired me and the future generation to think about organ donating. From her I learnt that donating the organs to help someone lead a proper life is one of the greatest deeds."

Statistics say, each year India needs roughly 1.75 lakh kidney transplantations, whereas hardly 5,000-7,500 living donor renal transplantations are done. In situations like heart failur,e a living person cannot donate his heart.

Hence, cadaveric transplant is the only solution where a brain stem-dead patient can save the life of two renal failure patients, one heart and liver failure patient each and can give vision to two blind people, say experts.

Asked about complaints that West Bengal lacks the infrastructure for heart and liver transplant, Minister of State for Health Sashi Panja said: "We have plans in this regard."

However, Sovana Sarkar's wish that all her organs be donated after her death remained unfulfilled, due to the long legal process involved in zeroing in on recipients.

"My mother had wished that all her organs be donated after her death and my father wanted the same, which is why we waited for four days.

"We would have been happier if all the organs could be transplanted but we couldn't wait longer to find recipients. We are performing my mother's last rites tonight (Tuesday) to spare my 84-year-old father the mental trauma of seeing her in that state," said Prasenjit.

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