A Pathbreaker in Pune Mrs. Arati Gokhale, Central Coordinator, ZTCC Pune
Mrs. Arati Gokhale’s pathbreaking efforts have put Pune on the map of deceased organ donation in India. As Central Coordinator, Zonal Transplant Coordination Center (ZTCC)-Pune, Arati has tackled many challenges successfully. She learnt to face challenges head-on right after she completed her Masters in Social Work from Karve Institute and started her career as a social worker in Ruby Hall Clinic, Pune. When she began working, there wasn’t even a separate room for counselling. But in spite of that Arati counselled HIV positive patients and their families, suicidal students, and patients in ICU with sensitivity and patience. On one such occasion, the Founder - Chairman of Ruby Hall Clinic, Dr. K. B. Grant happened to witness her interaction with a patient. He was so impressed that he made provision for a space forcounselling.
In 1993 Ruby Hall Clinic started an eye bank. Arati took up this new challenge and began creating awareness and counselling families who had lost a relative for eye donation. In 1994, when the law regulating living and deceased organ donation and transplantation came into being in India, Arati decided to get involved in the field. It was not an easy task, but Arati was not the kind of person who said ‘no’ to a challenge. She armed herself with the necessary knowledge to be able to counsel patients with kidney failure and their families. She spent time observing Dr. A. G. Huprikar, Nephrologist (and currently Secretary, ZTCC-Pune) at work in the Out-Patient Department, and learning the ins-and-outs of chronic kidney disease and kidney transplantation. Arati’s thirst for knowledge took her to TPM-DTI in Barcelona, Spain where she underwent a Diploma in OrganProcurement in 2002.Based on the volume of work that Arati had done, she was offered a scholarship for the training and received sponsorship for travel and other expenses. In fact, she was the only person to be offered the scholarship out of 52 students coming from different nations! Arati came back inspired from Barcelona, but there were no organ donations for three consecutive years. Yet, she did not lose heart.
ZTCC-Pune came into being as a non-governmental organisation in the field of organ donation in 2004, but its work started in a concerted manner almost 10 years later. Arati joined ZTCC-Pune in September 2013. Recognising the need for an organ allocation system, she worked on creating consolidated waiting lists of patients with organ failure. Also, ZTCC-Pune started organising more awareness campaigns for the general public and training programmes for the medical fraternity and transplant coordinators in collaboration with the Indian Medical Association, Indian Society of Critical Care Medicine, National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organisation, and MOHAN Foundation. Arati gives credit to the managing committee of ZTCCPunefor taking an active part in all the activities and playing a very important role in implementing policies. One such pathbreaking activity was a film ‘PhirZindagi’ (Life Continues) based on the concept of deceased organ donation for which Arati gave key inputs. It starred eminent actors Ratna Pathak Shah, Naseeruddin Shah and Neeraj Kabi who brought the concept to life. It has moved many a member of the audience to tears wherever it has been screened.
As central coordinator Arati is responsible for fair and equitable distribution of organs, organising ‘green corridors’ to facilitate speedy transport of organs, coordinating with various stakeholders (transplant coordinators, doctors from various hospitals with different superspecialities), and completing this task in a limited timeframe. Keeping one’s balance and maintaining neutrality is very difficult in such situations, but Arati pulls it off admirably.
The transplant coordinators’ training programme has been successfully organised in Pune, in collaboration with MOHAN Foundation, since 2016. Arati’s sessions on her journey as a social worker/coordinator, the early challenges in ZTCC-Pune and the successes, as well as her experiences in organising ‘green corridors’ –17 of them in one year, have inspired the participants. In fact, Mr.Sarang Awad, IPS, ACP – Traffic, Pune said that he accorded a ‘green corridor’ request from ZTCC-Pune the same status as that of a VVIP! Arati said that there were 56 deceased organ donors in 2017 from the Pune region. Two hospitals contributed to this in a big way – Ruby Hall Clinic with 21 deceased donors and Sahyadri Hospital with 20 deceased donors. She added that through the unique mobile app (GridSense Health) that had been created for ZTCC-Pune the method of organ allocation had become very efficient. Arati says her goal is to improve the organ donation rate in her region through new initiatives. In the meantime, she has been awarded a scholarship through MOHAN Foundation to attend a Mini Fellowship in Organ Donation offered by the Gift of Life Institute in Philadelphia, USA. Come October 2018, she will be embarking on yet another empowering journey to help her reach her goal.
- Dr. Sumana Navin
- Copyright © 2021. Published by MOHAN Foundation
- Keywords: Pathbreaker, Deceased Organ Donation, Counselling, Eye bank, ZTCC Pune, Phir Zindagi, Green Corridor