The villagers did not have to look far for inspiration to offer the “gift of life” because Catholic priest Father Davis Chiramel who floated the NGO has led by example.
Fr Chiramel, 52, vicar of the local church, donated one of his kidneys three years ago. The beneficiary was a poor electrician Thankappan, a Hindu. What’s more, the priest inspired leading industrialist Kochouseph Chittilapilly, chairman of electrical appliances major V-Guard Industries, last year to donate one of his kidneys to a poor man whose kidneys had failed.
“Pootharakkal has become the first village in the country where all adults have decided to donate their organs. It is also the first gesture of its kind in the world,” said Fr Chiramel.
His plans are big and also have the backing of all sections of the political class and state administration. Fr Chiramel set off on a 20-day statewide yatra on Sunday to convince people to sign up for donating their organs.
The Kidney Federation of India is aiming at collecting 1 million consent forms for organ donation. The organisation is also planning to float an organ bank. “I dream of a country where not a single person dies for want of organs. Besides, the initiative will foster communal harmony,” said Fr Chiramel, who wants the initiative to spread beyond Kerala.
India faces an acute shortage of organ donors, forcing people to rely on racketeers despite laws banning sale of organs.