Even in their bereavement, two families chose a path that could inspire many others. They donated the organs of their brain-dead family members at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) last week. The donations ended up saving six lives.
These donations have brought the hospital's cadaver organ donation count to three, a marked improvement. The hospital sees nearly 300 brain deaths in a year but very few families opt for organ donation.
"There was a time when we would get about three cadaver donations in an entire year, but things are changing for the better," said Dr MC Misra, chief, AIIMS Trauma Centre.
Both the road accident victims — a 41-year-old woman and a 39-year-old man — had been admitted in the neurosurgery departments in main AIIMS and the AIIMS trauma centre, respectively.
Within 12 hours of the donation, the doctors were able to transplant two hearts, livers and kidneys at AIIMS. The eyes and bones were preserved for later use. One of the kidneys was given to a child. "All the major organs were utilised among patients at AIIMS itself," said Misra.
The woman had been admitted with severe head injury in the main AIIMS on June 25 and was declared brain dead on June 28. "It took us a day to counsel the family and ultimately her husband agreed to donate her organs," said Rajeev Maikhuri, transplant coordinator at the Trauma Centre.
In the second case, the victim's father was willing to donate his son's organs immediately after he was declared brain dead on Sunday morning. But the consent form needed to be signed by his wife, who was sitting 300km away from Delhi in their native village.
"She wasn't even aware of her husband's death. Hats off to the father, who not only broke the news to her and convinced her to donate her husband's organs, but also ensured that she got here in time," Maikhuri added.
The first cadaver donation of the year at the trauma centre was that of a 45-year-old woman in January.