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26 Dec 2016

After death, 22-year-old nurse gives gift of life

Surabhi Barat
Subhro Niyogi & Sumati Yengkhom | TNN | Dec 25, 2016, KOLKATA: A 22-year-old nurse who was in coma for the last 10 days probably gave the best Christmas gift ever: in death, she donated her organs so that others may live. Surabhi Barat's kidneys and liver will be transplanted in operations that began on Sunday evening but will conclude only in the early hours of Monday . Her eyes have also been donated for cornea transplants.

The donations on Christmas Day crown a truly amazing year in which the city has already witnessed four `deceased organ donations' since June, when the son of 70-year-old Sovona Sarkar ran from pillar to post for four days to fulfil his mother's last wish of donating her organs. It jolted the health department into streamlining procedures for organ donation and sparked enough discussions in the media to create widespread awareness and gave the movement a momentum.

"My daughter had studied nursing because she was keen on serving people," said Surab hi's father Ashok, who has a cellphone repair and recharge shop in Asansol. "When doctors said she was brain dead, the first thought that came to us was to donate her organs, as there couldn't be a better way to honour her desire to serve others. It is her Christmas gift to five persons. We pray and hope the transplants are successful," he added. Runa, Surabhi's mother, is distraught at losing her daughter, but is glad that she has gifted life to others.

In 2004, Surabhi had undergone a brain tumor operation at Chennai's Apollo Hospital.However, a stent that was implanted in the brain continued to require attention, with blockages being removed six times in the past decade. On December 15, Surabhi was admitted after complaining of severe headache. Following a scan, doctors decided to operate on her to remove the blockage. But the operation wasn't successful, as she suffered from hydrocephalus, a condition in which there is abnormal accumulation of fluid in the brain. She slipped into coma soon after. On December 23, doctors told the parents that she was brain dead. Organ donation state nodal officer Aditi Kishore Sarkar said his team swung into action as soon as they received the news on Saturday. "A brain dead declaration committee was immediately set up and activated. An observer was also sent. The formalities were concluded at 2am on Sunday, paving the way for the donation of the patient's organs," he said.

A team of doctors led by Anant Kakkar flew in from Apollo Hospital, Chennai, to conduct the operations.Also on the flight was Relja Uvalic of Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu, a 57-year-old liver cirrhosis patient. Ironically, Tamil Nadu has the highest number of organ donations, while it is only at a nascent stage in Bengal.

"We did not want the liver to go waste, and that is why the patient was flown in from Chennai. In a way it's a kind of reverse migration," said Mahesh Goenka of Apollo Gleneagles Hospital, Kolkata. The other recipients were Bijay Kumar Bhoot of Howrah, who will receive a kidney. The recipient of the second kidney is a 32-year-old male patient from SSKM. Kolkata Police set up a green corridor to transport the kidney from Apollo to SSKM via the EM Bypass and Maa Flyover.This is the second time that the police have done so.

"It is very heartening to see deceased organ donation gaining momentum in the state," said Rupali Basu, president and CEO of Apollo Hospitals Group, India. "This has been made possible by the support of the West Bengal government and our commitment towards clinical excellence. In fact, in this case, the parents of this donor expressed their willingness for the donation, Such awareness from families of the brain-dead is a green signal to us that we can achieve better goal in terms of organ donation and cadaveric transplant."

There have been only two previous instances of deceased organ donation in Bngal.

In February 2010, a liver from Joydeb Paul was transplanted to a patient at SSKM, but she died a few hours after surgery. The next transplant -kidneys of Bimal Kumar Karmakar -in 2012, was a success. But complexity in the procedures of declaring a patient brain dead for deceased organ transplant had halted further progress till Prosenjit Karmakar's herculian effort to get his mother's organ transplanted this June revived the movement.

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