My first experience with counselling
I am writing this note to share with you a very unique and poignant experience that I had this evening. My emotions are very charged and I felt I needed to put my feelings down in words to get some clarity.
I am in Chennai for this week to attend a training course being organised by this NGO that I have recently joined – MOHAN Foundation- a very unique organisation that has done some pioneering work in the field of Cadaver (deceased) Organ Donation in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. I have now taken upon myself to start their north chapter. I am here to learn about the intricacies of my work as I take it forward.
For those of you, who are completely unfamiliar with this concept, let me quickly try to explain it in as simple words that I can find. A Brain Death results from a severe, irreversible injury to the brain or haemorrhage which causes all the brain activity to stop. All areas of the brain are damaged and no longer function due to which a person cannot sustain his/her own life, but vital body functions may be maintained by an artificial support system. This maintains circulation to vital organs long enough to facilitate organ donation.
The Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994 recognises this as a form of death and allows retrieval of vital organs if the immediate family gives consent.
This afternoon, as I was trying to comprehend a complicated lecture on paediatric brain death, I was called out by one of the MOHAN Foundation staff. I was told that at the Chennai General Hospital (the biggest government hospital in Chennai), the doctors have just declared brain dead a young 17 year old boy from Bihar. The father had arrived a while ago and since the family only spoke Hindi, the counsellor was having a tough time communicating with them. I was asked if I could assist as I knew Hindi. I obviously agreed, though with a lot of trepidation and fear as this was going to be my very first time.
What transpired at the hospital is something that would remain etched in my mind for as long as I live. I spoke to the father- a frail, old, uneducated, poor man...who had just lost a son who he had after 4 daughters. And even before he has had proper grieving time, here was a bunch of strangers, in an alien city, asking for his son's organs to save lives of people whom he had never met and never would meet.
Obviously he refused! He said he would like the body back and would like to return home once his son is cremated. Keeping with the norms of organ donation, I told him that we respected his decision but if he could just take 10 more minutes to think about it and then give a final answer. We once again reiterated, that his loss was irreversible and that no one could feel his pain for him, but that he should once again consider giving this gift of life that could change 7 to 8 lives.
Fifteen minutes later, the father displayed such strength of character and wisdom, that I was moved to tears. He said that he had thought about it and was willing to donate his child's organs provided they went to other poor people like him. Where did he find in himself the strength to take this courageous decision? Where did he find the power to trust a bunch of complete strangers? Where did he find in himself the large heartedness to give so greatly when destiny had been so cruel to snatch away from him something so precious as his child?
It re affirms my faith in everything that is good, that is selfless, that is altruistic, and that is humane……
It reaffirms my faith in my work…..
It reaffirms my faith in this world!
- Pallavi Kumar, Executive Director, MOHAN Foundation Delhi-NCR
- Copyright © 2021. Published by MOHAN Foundation
- Keywords: First Experience, MOHAN Foundation