Sushita Rai (21) used to often tell her friends and brother that she wanted her organs to be donated to poor patients when she died. But they could not have imagined that they would see her wish come true and that too, so soon.
Rai sustained head injuries after a car accident on April 12, which happens to be her birthday, and was declared brain-dead on Sunday. Her family was shattered but donated her kidneys, liver and eyes at KEM Hospital, Parel. “We wanted to respect her wish. We hope her soul rests in peace,” said her father Sudhakar, a restaurant manager.
The gesture forever transformed the lives of five people. A 45-year-old chartered accountant, whose liver was completely damaged, got another chance to live with Rai’s liver. A 34-year-old man and a 37-year-old woman, who got her kidneys, were liberated from dialysis machines. And, two others will be able to see the world through her eyes.
This was the city’s seventh cadaver donation this year. It was also the first cadaver organ donation at KEM Hospital in the last 12 years and among the few donations that have taken place at public hospitals in the city.
Doctors said it would not have taken place if her family was not so motivated.
Rai, who was studying to become an interior designer, was returning home in a Skoda with brother and friends after her birthday celebrations when their car met with an accident at around 11.30 pm. While others escaped unhurt, Rai was in a bad condition. She was rushed to Wockhardt Hospital, Mulund, and later shifted to Intensive Care Unit at Aastha nursing home. She was kept on ventilator but slowly slipped into a stage where she was brain-stem dead.
A patient is declared to have had a ‘brain-stem death’ when his brain stops functioning irreversibly, but heart and lungs are still working with mechanical support. If the ventilator is switched off, the heart also stops beating.
“Her brother Sumeet (18)mustered the courage to tell her parents about the wish. Though they were still struggling to accept that they had lost their daughter, they decided to donate her organs,” said Rai’s uncle Uday Shetty.
Since the nursing home is not an authorised organ retrieval centre, they took Rai all the way to Parel’s KEM Hospital.
“The surgeon at Aastha hospital contacted us around noon on Sunday. We mobilised everything immediately,” said Dr Sujata Patwardhan, who heads the urology department at KEM. “A team of doctors re-assessed Rai and after confirming that she was brain-dead, the procedure started.”
Dr Patwardhan and her team transplanted one of Rai’s kidneys into the 37-year-old woman, who had been waiting for a cadaver kidney four years. The other kidney went to BSES Hospital, Andheri, where it was implanted into the body of the 34-year-old. Dr Sanjay Nagral from Jaslok Hospital retrieved Rai’s liver for his patient.