Mumbai's first cadaver bone retrieval is bitter-sweet

While Vinayak Mhaske’s family’s decision to partake in a cadaver bone retrieval made it the first in Mumbai history, they paid a price for generosity, waiting 27 hours for the body

We felt as if we made a mistake by donating organs,” said the family members of 64-year-old Vinayak Mhaske, the first cadaver bone donor from Mumbai who donated his liver, both kidneys and eyes apart from the hip bone and ribs. His family consented to the donation in an hour after Mhaske was pronounced brain dead at Sawla Hospital, Chembur, on Friday morning. The family, however, had to wait for 27 hours as civic officials and the Zonal Transplant Coordination Committee (ZTCC) dragged their feet to complete the multiple organ retrieval.

Vinayak Mhaske
Vinayak Mhaske

Mhaske, a resident of Shramjivi Nagar, Chembur, who worked in a private company was rushed to the hospital on Friday morning after he met with a severe heart attack. This was followed by multiple medical complications, ultimately resulting in coma. At 9 am, the treating doctors pronounced Mhaske brain-dead. His wife and three children, who had previously read about brain dead patients becoming organ donors, informed the doctors of their willingness. The patient however had to be moved to an authorized ZTCC centre at Sion Hospital.

However, procedural delays meant that the ambulance arrived only at 2.45 pm . The cardiac ambulance passed through a green corridor within 10 minutes. Admission time at Sion Hospital confirmed that Mhaske was checked in at 3 pm. But, the long list of formalities wasn’t over for the family, which was asked by the Nehru Nagar Police station to obtain an NOC.

“They needed an NOC which could’ve been procured from the hospital had the officers come here. But even after telling them about the transplant and existing delays, they asked us to come to police station to give the NOC,” said his son-in-law Uttam Ambore. Finally, the NOC was obtained after a few hours.

The liver, kidneys, eyes and bones were retrieved one after another by teams of Sion Hospital, TATA Memorial Centre and Jupiter Hospital. After organ retrieval was completed in the wee hours of Saturday, the family members had to wait through more procedures. Mhaske's body was finally handed over at 1 pm on Saturday .

“We had relatives down from Jalna, Pune, and distant parts, who waited for more than 10 hours. We haven't eaten anything since 10 am yesterday. All we wanted was to follow the footsteps of those who help society even in death,” added a upset Ambore.

Responding to the sunday mid-day’s query on the delay, Dr Suleman Merchant, dean of Sion Hospital, said.

“Two apnea tests require a time gap of six to eight hours. The family members must not have been informed of the time these procedures take. I had received the papers for donation at 1.30 am on Friday night and signed them immediately. The first ever cadaver bone retrieval has actually opened a new window for other patients.”

Multiple benefits
While the liver was given to a patient at Jupiter Hospital, one kidney was transplanted in a 26-year-old patient from Sion, and another was transplanted in a male recipient (35). The doctors at Jupiter completed the liver transplant while the TMH team completed the first ever cadaver bone retrieval. 

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